VERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
May 1, 1849*
j 1ST OF BOOKS
TICKNOR, REED AND FIELDS,
Corner of OTasjutiflton anto School Streets,
LONGFELLOW'S EVANGELINE ; A TALE OF
ACADIE. Just published. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
LONGFELLOW'S VOICES OF THE NIGHT. A
New Edition. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
LONGFELLOW'S BALLADS AND OTHER POEMS.
A New Edition. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
LONGFELLOW'S SPANISH STUDENT. A Play
in Three Acts. A New Edition. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
LONGFELLOW'S BELFRY OF BRUGES AND
OTHER POEMS. A New Edition. In one volume, IGmo, price 75 cents
THE WAIF. A Collection of Poems. Edited by
LONGFELLOW. A New Edition. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
THE ESTRAY. A Collection of Poems. Edited
by LONGFELLOW. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
LONGFELLOW'S KAVANAGH. A TALE. Ju
Published. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
LONGFELLOW'S OUTRE-MER. A Pilgrimage
Beyond the Sea. N A New Edition. In one volume, 16mo, price $1.00.
LONGFELLOW'S HYPERION. A ROMANCE. A
New Edition. In one volume, 16mo, price $1.00.
A LIST OF BOOKS RECENTLY PUBLISHED
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. POEMS. In one
volume, 16mo. .New Edition, Enlarged. Just out. Price $1.00.
ALFRED TENNYSON. POEMS. A New Edition.
Enlarged. In two volumes, ICmo, price $1.50.
ALFRED TENNYSON. THE PRINCESS. A MEDLEY.
Just out. In one volume, 16mo, price 50 cents.
WILLIAM MOTHERWELL. POEMS, NARRATIVE
and LYRICAL. A New Edition, Enlarged. In one volume, 16mo, price
WILLIAM MOTHERWELL. MINSTRELSY, AN-
CIENT and MODERN. Wrth an HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION and
NOTES. In two volumes, IGmo, price $1.50.
RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES. POEMS OF
MANY YEARS. In one volume, IGmo, price 75 cents.
LEIGH HUNT. STORY OF RIMINI and Other Poems.
In one volume, 16mo, price 50 cents.
REJECTED ADDRESSES. From the 19th London
Edition. Carefully Revised. With an ORIGINAL PREFACE and NOTES.
By HORACE and JAMES SMITH. In one volume, 16mo, price 50 cents.
BARRY CORNWALL. ENGLISH SONGS and other
SMALL POEMS. In one volume, IGmo, price 75 cents.
JOHN BOWRING. MATINS AND VESPERS, with HYMNS
AND OCCASIONAL, DEVOTIONAL, PIECES. In one volume, 32mo, cloth,
gilt edges, price 37 1-2 cents.
GEORGE LUNT. THE AGE OF GOLD and OTHER
POEMS. In one volume, IGmo, price 50 cents.
MARY E. HEWITT. SONGS OF OUR LAND and
OTHER POEMS. In one volume, 16mo, price 75 cents.
T. BUCHANAN READ. POEMS. In one volume,
IGtno, price 50 cents.
BACH OP THE ABOVE POEMS AND PROSE WRITINGS, MAY BE HAD IN
VARIOUS STYLES OP HANDSOME BINDING.
BY TICKNOR, REED AND FIELDS.
ALDERBROOK ; A Collection of Fanny Forester's
VILLAGE SKETCHES, POEMS, etc. In two volumes, J2mo, with a fine
Portrait of the Author. A New Edition, Enlarged. Just out.
BEN PERLEY POORE. THE RISE AND FALL OF
Louis PHILIPPE, with Pen and Pencil Sketches of his Friends and his
Successors. Portraits. $100.
F. W. P, GREENWOOD. SERMONS OF CONSOLA-
TIOW. A iNew Edition, on very fine paper and large type. In one vol-
ume, IGnio, price $1.00.
CHARACTERISTICS OF WOMEN : MORAL, POET-
ICAL and HISTORICAL. By MRS. JAMESON. New Edition, Corrected and
Enlarged. In one volume, 12mo, price $1.00.
MRS. PUTNAM'S RECEIPT BOOK; AND YOUNG
HOUSEKEEPER'S ASSISTANT. In one volume, 16mo, price 50 cents.
THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN ; Considered in
Relation to External Objects. By GEORGE COMBE. With an Additional
Chapter, on the HARMONY BETWEEN PHRENOLOGY AND REV-
ELATK )N. By J. A. WARNE, A. M. Twenty-sixth American Edition.
In one volume, 12mo, price 75 cents.
ORTHOPHONY ; Or the Culture of the Voice in
Elocution. A Manual of ELEMENTARY EXERCISES, adapted to Dr. Rush's
"PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN VOICE," and the system of Vocal
Culture introduced by Mr. James E.Murdoch. Designed as an INTRO-
DUCTION to Russell's "AMERICAN ELOCUTIONIST." Compiled
by WILLIAM RUSSELL, author of " Lessons in Enunciation," etc. With
a Supplement on PURITY OF TONE, by G. J. WEBB, Professor, Boston
Academy of Music. Improved Edition. In one volume, 12mo, price
ELEMENTARY TREATISE ON MINERALOGY.
Comprising an INTRODUCTION TO THE SCIENCE. By WILLIAM
PHILLIPS. Fifth Edition, from the Fourth London Edition. By ROBERT
ALUN. Containing the Latest Discoveries in American and Foreign
Mineralogy, with numerous Additions to the Introduction, by FRANCIS
ALGER. With numerous Engravings. One volume, ]2mo, price $3.00.
THE USE OF THE BLOWPIPE IN CHEMISTRY
AND MINERALOGY. By J. J. BERZELIUS. Translated from the 4th
Enlarged and Corrected Edition, by J. D. WHITNEY. With Plates. In
one volume, 12mo, price $1.50.
A BRIEF PRACTICAL TREATISE ON MOR-
TARS IN BUILDING. With an Account of the Processes employed
on the Public Works in Boston Harbor. By Lieut. WILLIAM IJ. WRIGHT,
U. S. Corps of Engineers. With Plates. In one volume, 12mo, price
BOOKS PUBLISHED BY TICKNOR, REED AND FIELDS.
A PRACTICAL TREATISE ON THE CULTIVA-
TION OF THE GRAPE VINE ON OPEN WALLS. To which is
added, a Descriptive Account of an Improved Method of Planting and
Managing the Roots of Grape Vines. With Plates. In one volume,
12niOj price 62 1-2 cents.
THE SCENERY-SHOW-ER; with WORD-PAINTINGS
of the BEAUTIFUL, the PICTURESQUE, and the GRAND IN NATURE. By
WARREN BURTON. In one volume, 18mo, price 37 1-2 cents.
DR. JOHN C. WARREN. PHYSICAL EDUCATION
and THE PRESERVATION OF HEALTH. Third Edition, Enlarged. 18mo,
price 25 cents.
ANGEL-VOICES ; or WORDS OF COUNSEL FOR OVER-
COMING THE WORLD. In one volume, 18mo. A New Edition, Enlarged,
A BUDGET OF LETTERS, OR THINGS WHICH I
SAW ABROAD. In one volume, 12mo, price $1.00.
CONSUELO, and the COUNTESS OF RUDOLSTADT.
By GEORGE SAND. Translated by FRANCIS G. SHAW. Complete in five
volumes, 12mo, price 50 cents per volume. Each work sold separate.
DR. WALTER CHANNING. A TREATISE ON
ETHERIZATION IN CHILDBIRTH. Illustrated by 581 cases. In one vol-
ume, 8vo, just published, price $2.00.
COUNT DE LAPORTE'S FRENCH GRAMMAR;
Containing all the Rules of the Language, upon a New and Improved
Plan. New (Stereotype) Edition. 1 vol. 12mo, half-embossed morocco,
COUNT DE LAPORTE'S SPEAKING EXERCI-
SES. For the Illustration of the Rules and Idioms of the French
Language. New (Stereotype) Edition. 1 vol. 12mo. half embossed mo-
rocco, 63 cents.
COUNT DE LAPORTE'S KEY TO THE FRENCH
EXEllCISES. New (Stereotype) Edition. 1 vol. 12mo, half-embossed
morocco, 50 cents.
COUNT DE LAPORTE'S EXERCISES AND KEY.
Bound in 1 volume, half-embossed morocco, $1.00.
COUNT DE LAPORTE'S SELF - TEACHING
READER. For the Study of the Pronunciation of the French Lan-
guage, after a Plan entirely New, which will enable the Student to
acquire with facility a Correct Pronunciation, with or without the assist-
ance of a Teacher. New (Stereotype) Edition. 1 volume, 12mo, half-
embossed morocco, 50 cents.
The above Series is used in the Universities of Cambridge, Hanover, and Vir-
ginia, as well as in many other Colleges, Academies, and Schools,
in JVewJ England and elseichere.
K AVA N A G H.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
The Highly ptll^)ose never is o'ertook,
Unless the deed go with it.
TICKNOR, REED, AND FIELDS.
M DCCC XLIX.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, by
H. W. LONGFELLOW,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts
STEREOTYPED AND PRINTED BY
METCALF AND COMPANY,
PRINTERS TO THE UNIVERSITY.
GREAT men stand like solitary towers in the
city of God, and secret passages running deep
beneath external nature give their thoughts inter-
course with higher intelligences, which strength-
ens and consoles them, and of which the laborers
on the surface do not even dream !
Some such thought as this was floating vaguely
through the brain of Mr. Churchill, as he closed
his school-house door behind him ; and if in any
degree he applied it to himself, it may perhaps be
pardoned in a dreamy, poetic man like him ; for
we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of
doing, while others judge us by what we have
already done. And moreover his wife consider-
ed him equal to great things. To the people in
the village, he was the school-master, and nothing
more. They beheld in his form and countenance
no outward sign of the divinity within. They
saw him daily moiling and delving in the common
path, like a beetle, and little thought that under-
neath that hard and cold exterior, lay folded deli-
cate golden wings, wherewith, when the heat of
day was over, he soared and revelled in the
pleasant evening air.
To-day he was soaring and revelling before the
sun had set ; for it was Saturday. With a feel-
ing of infinite relief he left behind him the empty
school-house, into which the hot sun of a Sep-
tember afternoon was pouring. All the bright
young faces were gone ; all the impatient little
hearts were gone ; all the fresh voices, shrill, but
musical with the melody of childhood, were
gone ; and the lately busy realm was given up to
silence, and the dusty sunshine, and the old gray
flies, that buzzed and bumped their heads against
the window-panes. The sound of the outer door,
creaking on its hebdomadal hinges, was like a sen-
tinel's challenge, to which the key growled re-
sponsive in the lock ; and the master, casting a
furtive glance at the last caricature of himself in
red chalk on the wooden fence close by, entered
A TALE. 5
with a light step the solemn avenue of pines that
led to the margin of the river.
At first his step was quick and nervous ; and
he swung his cane as if aiming blows at some in-
visible and retreating enemy. Though a meek
man, there were moments when he remembered
with bitterness the unjust reproaches of fathers
and their insulting words ; and then he fought im-
aginary battles with people out of sight, and struck
them to the ground, and trampled upon them ; for
Mr. Churchill was not exempt from the weak-
ness of human nature, nor the customary vexa-
tions of a school-master's life. Unruly sons and
unreasonable fathers did sometimes embitter his
else sweet days and nights. But as he walked,
his step grew slower, and his heart calmer. The
coolness and shadows of the great trees comfort-
ed and satisfied him, and he heard the voice of
the wind as it were the voice of spirits calling
around him in the air. So that when he emerged
from the black woodlands into the meadows by
the river's side, all his cares were forgotten.
He lay down for a moment under a syca-
more, and thought of the Roman Consul Licinius,
passing a night with eighteen of his followers in
the hollow trunk of the great Lycian plane-tree.
From the branches overhead the falling seeds
were wafted away through the soft air on plumy
tufts of down. The continuous murmur of the
leaves and of the swift-running stream seemed
rather to deepen than disturb the pleasing solitude
and silence of the place ; and for a moment he
imagined himself far away in the broad prairies of
the West, and lying beneath the luxuriant trees
that overhang the banks of the Wabash and the
Kaskaskia. He saw the sturgeon leap from the
river, and flash for a moment in the sunshine.
Then a flock of wild-fowl flew across the sky to-
wards the sea-mist that was rising slowly in the
east ; and his soul seemed to float away on the
river's current, till he had glided far out into the
measureless sea, and the sound of the wind among
the leaves was no longer the sound of the wind,
but of the sea.
Nature had made Mr. Churchill a poet, but des-
tiny made him a school-master. This produced
a discord between his outward and his inward ex-
istence. Life presented itself to him like the
Sphinx, with its perpetual riddle of the real and
the ideal. To the solution of this dark problem
he devoted his days and his nights. He was
forced to teach grammar when he would fain
A TALE. 7
have written poems ; and from day to day, and
from year to year, the trivial things of life post-
poned the great designs, which he felt capable of
accomplishing, but never had the resolute courage
to begin. Thus he dallied with his thoughts and
with all things, and wasted his strength on trifles ;
like the lazy sea, that plays with the pebbles on
its beach, but under the inspiration of the wind
might lift great navies on its outstretched palms,
and toss them into the air as playthings.
The evening came. The setting sun stretched
his celestial rods of light across the level land-
scape, and, like the Hebrew in Egypt, smote the
rivers and the brooks and the ponds, and they be-
came as blood.
Mr. Churchill turned his steps homeward. He
climbed the hill with the old windmill on its sum-
mit, and below him saw the lights of the village ;
and around him the great landscape sinking deeper
and deeper into the sea of darkness. He passed
an orchard. The air was filled with the odor of
the fallen fruit, which seemed to him as sweet as
the fragrance of the blossoms in June. A few
steps farther brought him to an old and neglected
church-yard ; and he paused a moment to look at
the white gleaming stone, under which slumbered
the old clergyman, who came into the village in
the time of the Indian wars, and on which was re-
corded that for half a century he had been " a
painful preacher of the word." He entered the
village street, and interchanged a few words with
Mr. Pendexter, the venerable divine, whom he
found standing at his gate. He met, also, an ill-
looking man, carrying so many old boots that he
seemed literally buried in them ; and at intervals
encountered a stream of strong tobacco smoke,
exhaled from the pipe of an Irish laborer, and
pervading the damp evening air. At length he
reached his own door.
WHEN Mr. Churchill entered his study, he
found the lamp lighted, and his wife waiting for
him. The wood fire was singing on the hearth
like a grasshopper in the heat and silence of a
Summer noon ; and to his heart the chill autum-
nal evening became a Summer noon. His wife
turned towards him with looks of love in her joy-
ous blue eyes ; and in the serene expression of
her face he read the Divine beatitude, " Blessed
are the pure in heart."
No sooner had he seated himself by the fireside
than the door was swung wide open, and on the
threshold stood, with his legs apart, like a minia-
ture colossus, a lovely, golden boy, about three
years old, with long, light locks, and very red
cheeks. After a moment's pause, he dashed for-
ward into the room with a shout, and established
himself in a large arm-chair, which he converted
into a carrier's wagon, and over the back of which
he urged forward his imaginary horses. He was
followed by Lucy, the maid of all work, bear-
ing in her arms the baby, with large, round eyes,
and no hair. In his mouth he held an India rub-
ber ring, and looked very much like a street-door
knocker. He came down to say good night, but
after he got down, could not say it ; not being
able to say any thing but a kind of explosive
" Papa ! " He was then a good deal kissed and
tormented in various ways, and finally sent off to
bed blowing little bubbles with his mouth, Lucy
blessing his little heart, and asseverating that no-
body could feed him in the night without loving
him ; and that if the flies bit him any more she
would pull out every tooth in their heads !
Then came Master Alfred's hour of triumph
and sovereign sway. The fire-light gleamed on
his hard, red cheeks, and glanced from his liquid
eyes, and small, white teeth. He piled his wagon
full of books and papers, and dashed off to town
at the top of his speed ; he delivered and re-
ceived parcels and letters, and played the post-
boy's horn with his lips. Then he climbed the
back of the great chair, sang " Sweep ho ! " as
A TALE. 11
from the top of a very high chimney, and, sliding
down upon the cushion, pretended to fall asleep
in a little white bed, with white curtains ; from
which imaginary slumber his father awoke him by
crying in his ear, in mysterious tones,
" What little boy is this ! "
Finally he sat down in his chair at his mother's
knee, and listened very attentively, and for the
hundredth time, to the story of the dog Jumper,
which was no sooner ended, than vociferously
called for again and again. On the fifth repetition,
it was cut as short as the dog's tail by Lucy, who,
having put the baby to bed, now came for Master
Alfred. He seemed to hope he had been forgot-
ten, but was nevertheless marched off to bed,
without any particular regard to his feelings, and
disappeared in a kind of abstracted mood, repeat-
ing softly to himself his father's words,
" Good night, Alfred !"
His father looked fondly after him as he went
up stairs, holding Lucy by one hand, and with the
other rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
" Ah ! these children, these children ! " said
Mr. Churchill, as he sat down at the tea-table ;
" we ought to love them very much now, for we
shall not have them long with us ! "
" Good heavens ! " exclaimed his wife, u what
do you mean ? Does any thing ail them ? Are
they going to die ? "
" I hope not. But they are going to grow up,
and be no longer children."
" O, you foolish man ! You gave me such a
fright ! "
" And yet it seems impossible that they should
ever grow to be men, and drag the heavy artil-
lery along the dusty roads of life."
" And I hope they never will. That is the
last thing I want either of them to do."
" O, I do not mean literally, only figuratively.
By the way, speaking of growing up and growing
old, I saw Mr. Pendexter this evening, as I came
" And what had he to say ? "
cc He told me he should preach his farewell
" Poor old man ! I really pity him."
" So do I. But it must be confessed he is a
dull preacher ; and I dare say it is as dull work
for him as for his hearers."
" Why are they going to send him away ? "
" O, there are a great many reasons. He
does not give time and attention enough to his
A TALE. 13
sermons and to his parish. He is always at work
on his farm ; always wants his salary raised ; and
insists upon his right to pasture his horse in the
" Hark ! " cried his wife, lifting up her face in
a listening attitude.
" What is the matter ? "
" I thought I heard the baby ! "
There was a short silence. Then Mr. Church-
" It was only the cat in the cellar."
At this moment Lucy came in. She hesitated
a little, and then, in a submissive voice, asked
leave to go down to the village to buy some rib-
bon for her bonnet. Lucy was a girl of fifteen,
who had been taken a few years before from an
Orphan Asylum. Her dark eyes had a gypsy
look, and she wore her brown hair twisted round
her head after the manner of some of Murillo's
girls. She had Milesian blood in her veins, and
was impetuous and impatient of contradiction.
When she had left the room, the school-master
resumed the conversation by saying,
" I do not like Lucy's going out so much in
the evening. I am afraid she will get into trouble.
She is really very pretty."
Then there was another pause, after which he
" My dear wife, one thing puzzles me exceed-
" And what is that ? "
u It is to know what that man does with all the
old boots he picks up about the village. I met
him again this evening. He seemed to have as
many feet as Briareus had hands. He is a kind
" But what has that to do with Lucy ? "
" Nothing. It only occurred to me at the
moment ; and I never can imagine what he does
with so many old boots."
A TALE. 15
WHEN tea was over, Mr. Churchill walked to
and fro in his study, as his custom was. And as
he walked, he gazed with secret rapture at the
books, w r hich lined the walls, and thought how
many bleeding hearts and aching heads had found
consolation for themselves and imparted it to
others, by writing those pages. The books
seemed to him almost as living beings, so instinct
were they with human thoughts and sympathies.
It was as if the authors themselves were gazing at
him from the walls, with countenances neither
sorrowful nor glad, but full of calm indifference
to fate, like those of the poets who appeared to
Dante in his vision, walking together on the dolor-
ous shore. And then he dreamed of fame, and
thought that perhaps hereafter he might be in
some degree, and to some one, what these men
were to him ; and in the enthusiasm of the
moment he exclaimed aloud,
u Would you have me be like these, dear
" Like these what ? " asked his wife, not com-
" Like these great and good men, like these
scholars and poets, the authors of all these
books ! "
She pressed his hand and said, in a soft, but
u O, yes ! Like them, only perhaps better ! "
u Then I will write a Romance ! "
u Write it ! " said his wife, like the angel.
For she believed that then he would become
famous for ever ; and that all the vexed and busy
world would stand still to hear him blow his little
trumpet, whose sound was to rend the adaman-
tine walls of time, and reach the ears of a far-off
and startled posterity.
A TALE. 17
" I WAS thinking to-day," said Mr. Churchill
a few minutes afterwards, as he took some papers
from a drawer scented with a quince, and arranged
them on the study table, while his wife as usual
seated herself opposite to him with her work in
her hand, "I was thinking to-day how dull and
prosaic the study of mathematics is made in our
school-books ; as if the grand science of num-
bers had been discovered and perfected merely
to further the purposes of trade."
" For my part," answered his wife, u I do
not see how you can make mathematics poetical.
There is no poetry in them."
" Ah, that is a very great mistake ! There
is something divine in the science of numbers.
Like God, it holds the sea in the hollow of its
hand. It measures the earth ; it weighs the stars ;
it illumines the universe ; it is law, it is order, it
is beauty. And yet we imagine that is, most
of us that its highest end and culminating point
is book-keeping by double entry. It is our way
of teaching it that makes it so prosaic."
So saying, he arose, and went to one of his
book-cases, from the shelf of which he took down
a little old quarto volume, and laid it upon the
"Now here," he continued, "is a book of
mathematics of quite a different stamp from ours."
" It looks very old. What is it ? "
"It is the Lilawati of Bhascara Acharya,
translated from the Sanscrit."
"It is a pretty name. Pray what does it
mean ? "
" Lilawati was the name of Bhascara's daugh-
ter ; and the book was written to perpetuate it.
Here is an account of the whole matter."
He then opened the volume, and read as fol-
" It is said that the composing of Lilawati was
occasioned by the following circumstance. Lila-
wati was the name of the author's daughter, con-
cerning whom it appeared, from the qualities of
the Ascendant at her birth, that she was destined
A TALE. 19
to pass her -life unmarried, and to remain without
children. The father ascertained a lucky hour
for contracting her in marriage, that she might be
firmly connected, and have children. It is said
that, when that hour approached, he brought his
daughter and his intended son near him. He left
the hour-cup on the vessel of water, and kept in
attendance a time-knowing astrologer, in order
that, when the cup should subside in the water,
those two precious jewels should be united. But
as the intended arrangement was not according to
destiny, it happened that the girl, from a curiosity
natural to children, looked into the cup to observe
the water coming in at the hole ; when by chance
a pearl separated from her bridal dress, fell into
the cup, and, rolling down to the hole, stopped the
influx of the water. So the astrologer waited in
expectation of the promised hour. When the
operation of the cup had thus been delayed be-
yond all moderate time, the father was in conster-
nation, and examining, he found that a small pearl
had stopped the course of the water, and the long-
expected hour was passed. In short, the father,
thus disappointed, said to his unfortunate daugh-
ter, I will write a book of your name, which shall
remain to the latest times, for a good name is
a second life, and the groundwork of eternal ex-
As the school-master read, the eyes of his wife
dilated and grew tender, and she said,
" What a beautiful story ! When did it hap-
pen ? "
" Seven hundred years ago, among the Hin-
" Why not write a poem about it ? "
" Because it is already a poem of itself, one
of those things, of which the simplest statement is
the best, and which lose by embellishment. The
old Hindoo legend, brown with age, would not
please me so well if decked in gay colors, and
hung round with the tinkling bells of rhyme.
Now hear how the book begins."
Again he read ;
" Salutation to the elephant-headed Being who
infuses joy into the minds of his worshippers,
who delivers from every difficulty those that call
upon him, and whose feet are reverenced by the
gods ! Reverence to Ganesa, who is beautiful
as the pure purple lotos, and around whose neck
the black curling snake winds itself in playful
folds ! "
" That sounds rather mystical," said his wife.
A TALE. 21
" Yes, the book begins with a salutation to the
Hindoo deities, as the old Spanish Chronicles
begin in the name of God, and the Holy Virgin.
And now see how poetical some of the examples
He then turned over the leaves slowly and
u One-third of a collection of beautiful water-
lilies is offered to Mahadev, one-fifth to Huri,
one-sixth to the Sun, one-fourth to Devi, and six
which remain are presented to the spiritual teach-
er. Required the whole number of water-lilies."
" That is very pretty," said the wife, " and
would put it into the boys' heads to bring you
" Here is a prettier one still. One-fifth of a
hive of bees flew to the Kadamba flower ; one-
third flew to the Silandhara ; three times the dif-
ference of these two numbers flew to an arbor ;
and one bee continued flying about, attracted on
each side by the fragrant Ketaki and the Malati.
What was the number of the bees ? "
" T am sure I should never be able to tell."
" Ten times the square root of a flock of
Here Mrs. Churchill laughed aloud ; but he
continued very gravely,
u Ten times the square root of a flock of
geese, seeing the clouds collect, flew to the
Manus lake ; one-eighth of the whole flew from
the edge of the water amongst a multitude of
water-lilies ; and three couple were observed
playing in the water. Tell me, my young girl
with beautiful locks, what was the whole number
of geese ? "
" Well, what was it ? "
" What should you think ? "
" About twenty."
" No, one hundred and forty-four. Now try
another. The square root of half a number of
bees, and also eight-ninths of the whole, alighted
on the jasmines, and a female bee buzzed respon-
sive to the hum of the male inclosed at night in a
water-lily. O, beautiful damsel, tell me the num-
ber of bees."
" That is not there. You made it."
u No, indeed I did not. I wish I had made it.
Look and see."
He showed her the book, and she read it her-
self. He then proposed some of the geometrical
" In a lake the bud of a water-lily was ob-
served, one span above the water, and when
A TALE. 23
moved by the gentle breeze, it sunk in the water
at two cubits' distance. Required the depth of
" That is charming, but must be very difficult.
I could not answer it."
" A tree one hundred cubits high is distant
from a well two hundred cubits ; from this tree
one monkey descends and goes to the well ; an-
other monkey takes a leap upwards, and then de-
scends by the hypothenuse ; and both pass over
an equal space. Required the height of the
" I do not believe you can answer that ques-
tion yourself, without looking into the book," said
the laughing wife, laying her hand over the solu-
tion. " Try it."
"With great pleasure, my dear child," cried
the confident school-master, taking a pencil and
paper. After making a few figures and calcula-
tions, he answered,
" There, my young girl with beautiful locks,
there is the answer, forty cubits."
His wife removed her hand from the book, and
then, clapping both in triumph, she exclaimed,
" No, you are wrong, you are wrong, my
beautiful youth with a bee in your bonnet. It
is fifty cubits ! "
" Then I must have made some mistake."
" Of course you did. Your monkey did not
jump high enough."
She signalized his mortifying defeat as if it had
been a victory, by showering kisses, like roses,
upon his forehead and cheeks, as he passed be-
neath the triumphal arch- way of her arms, trying
in vain to articulate,
" My dearest Lilawati, what is the whole
number of the geese ? "
A TALE. 25
AFTER extricating himself from this pleasing
dilemma, he said,
" But I am now going to write. I must really
begin in sober earnest, or I shall never get any
thing finished. And you know I have so many
things to do, so many books to write, that really
I do not know where to begin. I think I will
take up the Romance first." .
" It will not make much difference, if you only
begin ! "
" That is true. I will not lose a moment."
" Did you answer Mr. Cartwright's letter
about the cottage bedstead ? "
" Dear me, no ! I forgot it entirely. That
must be done first, or he will make it all wrong."
" And the young lady who sent you the poetry
to look over and criticize ? "
" No ; I have not had a single moment's leis-
ure. And there is Mr. Hanson, who wants to
know about the cooking-range. Confound it !
there is always something interfering with my
Romance. However, I will despatch those mat-
ters very speedily."
And he began to write with great haste. For
a while nothing was heard but the scratching of
his pen. Then he said, probably in connection
with the cooking-range,
<c One of the most convenient things in house-
keeping is a ham. It is always ready, and always
welcome. You can eat it with any thing and with-
out any tiling. It reminds me always of the great
wild boar Scrimner, in the Northern Mythology,
who is killed every day for the gods to feast on
in Valhalla, and comes to life again every night."
" In that case, I should think the gods would
have the night-mare," said his wife.
" Perhaps they do."
And then another long silence, broken only by
the skating of the swift pen over the sheet.
Presently Mrs. Churchill said, as if following
out her own train of thought, while she ceased
plying her needle to bite off the thread, which
ladies will sometimes do in spite of all that is said
A 1ALE. 27
" A man came here to-day, calling himself the
agent of an extensive house in the needle trade.
He left this sample, and said the drill of the eye
was superior to any other, and they are warranted
not to cut the thread. He puts them at the
wholesale price ; and if I do not like the sizes, he
offers to exchange them for others, either sharps
To this remark the abstracted school-master
vouchsafed no reply. He found his half-dozen
letters not so easily answered, particularly that
to the poetical young lady, and worked away
busily at them. Finally they were finished and
sealed ; and he looked up to his wife. She
turned her eyes dreamily upon him. Slumber
was hanging in their blue orbs, like snow in the
heavens, ready to fall. It was quite late, and he
said to her,
" I am too tired, my charming Lilawati, and
you too sleepy, to sit here any longer to-night.
And, as I do not wish to begin my Romance
without having you at my side, so that I can read
detached passages to you as I write, I will put it
off till to-morrow or the next day."
He watched his wife as she went up stairs with
the light. It was a picture always new and al-
ways beautiful, and like a painting of Gherardo
della Notte. As he followed her, he paused to
look at the stars. The beauty of the heavens
made his soul overflow.
u How absolute," he exclaimed, u how abso-
lute and omnipotent is the silence of the night !
And yet the stillness seems almost audible !
From all the measureless depths of air around us
comes a half-sound, a half-whisper, as if we could
hear the crumbling and falling away of earth
and all created things, in the great miracle of
nature, decay and reproduction, ever beginning,
never ending, the gradual lapse and running of
the sand in the great hour-glass of Time ! "
In the night, Mr. Churchill had a singular
dream. He thought himself in school, where he
was reading Latin to his pupils. Suddenly all the
genitive cases of the first declension began to
make faces at him, and to laugh immoderately ;
and when he tried to lay hold of them, they
jumped down into the ablative, and the circum-
flex accent assumed the form of a great mous-
tache. Then the little village school-house was
transformed into a vast and endless school-house
of the world, stretching forward, form after form,
through all the generations of coming time ; and
A TALE. 29
on all the forms sat young men and old, reading
and transcribing his Romance, which now in his
dream was completed, and smiling and passing it
onward from one to another, till at last the clock
in the corner struck twelve, and the weights
ran down with a strange, angry whirr, and the
school broke up ; and the school-master awoke
to find this vision of fame only a dream, out of
which his alarm-clock had aroused him at an
MEANWHILE, a different scene was taking
place at the parsonage. Mr. Pendexter had
retired to his study to finish his farewell sermon.
Silence reigned through the house. Sunday had
already commenced there. The week ended
with the setting of the sun, and the evening
and the morning were the first day.
The clergyman was interrupted in his labors by
the old sexton, who called as usual for the key of
the church. He was gently rebuked for coming
so late, and excused himself by saying that his
wife was worse.
" Poor woman ! " said Mr. Pendexter ; "has
she her mind ? "
" Yes," answered the sexton, u as much as
" She has been ill a long time," continued
A TALE. 31
the clergyman. " We have had prayers for her
a great many Sundays."
"It is very true, sir," replied the sexton,
mournfully; "I have given you a great deal of
trouble. But you need not pray for her any
more. It is of no use."
Mr. Pendexter's mind was in too fervid a state
to notice the extreme and hopeless humility of his
old parishioner, and the unintentional allusion to
the inefficacy of his prayers. He pressed the old
man's hand warmly, and said, with much emo-
" To-morrow is the last time that I shall
preach in this parish, where I have preached for
twenty-five years. But it is not the last time I
shall pray for you and your family."
The sexton retired also much moved ; and the
clergyman again resumed his task. His heart
glowed and burned within him. Often his face
flushed and his eyes filled with tears, so that he
could not go on. Often he rose and paced the
chamber to and fro, and wiped away the large
drops that stood on his red and feverish fore-
At length the sermon was finished. He rose
and looked out of the window. Slowly the clock
struck twelve. He had not heard it strike before,
since six. The moon-light silvered the distant
hills, and lay, white almost as snow, on the frosty
roofs of the village. Not a light could be seen at
" Ungrateful people ! Could you not watch
with me one hour ? " exclaimed he, in that ex-
cited and bitter moment ; as if he had thought
that on that solemn night the whole parish would
have watched, while he was writing his farewell
discourse. He pressed his hot brow against the
window-pane to allay its fever ; and across the
tremulous wavelets of the river the tranquil moon
sent towards him a silvery shaft of light, like an
angelic salutation. And the consoling thought
came to him, that not only this river, but all
rivers and lakes, and the great sea itself, were
flashing with this heavenly light, though he beheld
it as a single ray only ; and that what to him
were the dark waves were the dark providences
of God, luminous to others, and even to himself
should he change his position.
A TALE. 33
THE morning came ; the dear, delicious, silent
Sunday ; to the weary workman, both of brain
and hand, the beloved day of rest. When the
first bell rang, like a brazen mortar, it seemed
from its gloomy fortress to bombard the village
with bursting shells of sound, that exploded over
the houses, shattering the ears of all the parish-
ioners and shaking the consciences of many.
Mr. Pendexter was to preach his farewell
sermon. The church was crowded, and only one
person came late. It was a modest, meek girl,
who stole silently up one of the side aisles,
not so silently, however, but that the pew-door
creaked a little as she opened it ; and straightway
a hundred heads were turned in that direction,
although it was in the midst of the prayer. Old
Mrs. Fairfield did not turn round, but she and her
daughter looked at each other, and their bonnets
made a parenthesis in the prayer, within which
one asked what that was, and the other replied,
" It is only Alice Archer. She always comes
Finally the long prayer was ended, and the
congregation sat down, and the weary children
who are always restless during prayers, and had
been for nearly half an hour twisting and turning,
and standing first on one foot and then on the
other, and hanging their heads over the backs of
the pews, like tired colts looking into neighbour-
ing pastures settled suddenly down, and sub-
sided into something like rest.
The sermon began, such a sermon as had
never been preached, or even heard of before.
It brought many tears into the eyes of the pastor's
friends, and made the stoutest hearts among his
foes quake with something like remorse. As he
announced the text, " Yea, I think it meet as
long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up, by
putting you in remembrance," it seemed as if the
apostle Peter himself, from whose pen the words
first proceeded, were calling them to judgment.
He began by giving a minute sketch of his
ministry and the state of the parish, with all its
A TALE. 35
troubles and dissensions, social, political, and
ecclesiastical. He concluded by thanking those
ladies who had presented him with a black silk
gown, and had been kind to his wife during her
long illness ; by apologizing for having ne-
glected his own business, which was to study and
preach, in order to attend to that of the parish,
which was to support its minister, stating that
his own short-comings had been owing to theirs,
which had driven him into the woods in winter
and into the fields in summer ; and finally
by telling the congregation in general that they
were so confirmed in their bad habits, that no
reformation was to be expected in them under
his ministry, and that to produce one would re-
quire a greater exercise of Divine power than it
did to create the world ; for in creating the world
there had been no opposition, whereas, in their
reformation, their own obstinacy and evil propen-
sities, and self-seeking, and worldly-mindedness,
were all to be overcome !
WHEN Mr. Pendexter had finished his dis-
course, and pronounced his last benediction upon
a congregation to whose spiritual wants he had
ministered for so many years, his people, now his
no more, returned home in very various states of
mind. Some were exasperated, others mortified,
and others filled with pity.
Among the last was Alice Archer, a fair,
delicate girl, whose whole life had been saddened
by a too sensitive organization, and by somewhat
untoward circumstances. She had a pale, trans-
parent complexion, and large gray eyes, that
seemed to see visions. Her figure was slight,
almost fragile ; her hands white, slender, diapha-
nous. With these external traits her character
was in unison. She was thoughtful, silent, sus-
ceptible ; often sad, often in tears, often lost in
A TALE. 37
reveries. She led a lonely life with her mother,
who was old, querulous, and nearly blind. She
had herself inherited a predisposition to blindness ;
and in her disease there was this peculiarity, that
she could see in Summer, but in Winter the power
of vision failed her.
The old house they lived in, with its four
sickly Lombardy poplars in front, suggested
gloomy and mournful thoughts. It was one of
those houses that depress you as you enter, as if
many persons had died in it, sombre, desolate,
silent. The very clock in the hall had a dismal
sound, gasping and catching its breath at times,
and striking the hour with a violent, determined
blow, reminding one of Jael driving the nail into
the head of Sisera.
One other inmate the house had, and only one.
This was Sally Manchester, or Miss Sally Man-
chester, as she preferred to be called ; an excel-
lent chamber-maid and a very bad cook, for she
served in both capacities. She was, indeed, an
extraordinary woman, of large frame and mascu-
line features ; one of those who are born to
work, and accept their inheritance of toil as if it
were play, and who consequently, in the language
of domestic recommendations, are usually styled
" a treasure, if you can get her." A treasure
she was to this family ; for she did all the house-
work, and in addition took care of the cow and
the poultry, occasionally venturing into the field
of veterinary practice, and administering lamp-oil
to the cock, when she thought he crowed hoarse-
ly. She had on her forehead what is sometimes
denominated a " widow's peak," that is to say,
her hair grew down to a point in the middle ; and
on Sundays she appeared at church in a blue
poplin gown, with a large pink bow on what she
called u the congregation side of her bonnet."
Her mind was strong, like her person ; her dis-
position not sweet, but, as is sometimes said of
apples by way of recommendation, a pleasant
Such were the inmates of the gloomy house,
from which the last-mentioned frequently ex-
pressed her intention of retiring, being engaged to
a travelling dentist, who, in filling her teeth with
amalgam, had seized the opportunity to fill a soft
place in her heart with something still more dan-
gerous and mercurial. The wedding-day had
been from time to time postponed, and at length
the family hoped and believed it never would
come, a wish prophetic of its own fulfilment.
Almost the only sunshine that from without
shone into the dark mansion came from the face
of Cecilia Vaughan, the school-mate and bosom-
friend of Alice Archer. They were nearly of
the same age, and had been drawn together by
that mysterious power which discovers and selects
friends for us in our childhood. They sat togeth-
er in school ; they walked together after school ;
they told each other their manifold secrets ; they
wrote long and impassioned letters to each other
in the evening ; in a word, they were in love with
each other. It was, so to speak, a rehearsal in
girlhood of the great drama of woman's life.
THE golden tints of Autumn now brightened
the shrubbery around this melancholy house, and
took away something of its gloom. The four
poplar trees seemed all ablaze, and flickered in
the wind like huge torches. The little border of
box rilled the air with fragrance, and seemed to
welcome the return of Alice, as she ascended the
steps, and entered the house with a lighter heart
than usual. The brisk autumnal air had quick-
ened her pulse and given a glow to her cheek.
She found her mother alone in the parlour,
seated in her large arm-chair. The warm sun
streamed in at the uncurtained windows ; and
lights and shadows from the leaves lay upon her
face. She turned her head as Alice entered,
" Who is it ? Is it you, Alice ? "
A TALE. 41
" Yes, it is I, mother."
" Where have you been so long ? "
u I have been nowhere, dear mother. I have
come directly home from church."
u How long it seems to me ! It is very late.
It is growing quite dark. I was just going to call
for the lights."
" Why, mother ! " exclaimed Alice, in a
startled tone ; u what do you mean ? The sun
is shining directly into your face ! "
" Impossible, my dear Alice. It is quite
dark. I cannot see you. Where are you ? "
She leaned over her mother and kissed her.
Both were silent, both wept. They knew that
the hour, so long looked forward to with dismay,
had suddenly come. Mrs. Archer was blind !
This scene of sorrow was interrupted by the
abrupt entrance of Sally Manchester. She, too,
was in tears ; but she was weeping for her own
affliction. In her hand she held an open let-
ter, which she gave to Alice, exclaiming amid
u Read this, Miss Archer, and see how false
man can be ! Never trust any man ! They are
all alike ; they are all false false false ! "
Alice took the letter and read as follows :
"It is with pleasure, Miss Manchester, I sit
down to write you a few lines. I esteem you as
highly as ever, but Providence has seemed to
order and direct my thoughts and affections to
another, one in my own neighbourhood. It
was rather unexpected to me. Miss Manchester,
I suppose you are well aware that we, as pro-
fessed Christians, ought to be resigned to our lot
in this world. May God assist you, so that we
may be prepared to join the great company in
heaven. Your answer would be very desirable.
I respect your virtue, and regard you as a friend.
" P. S. The society is generally pretty good
here, but the state of religion is quite low."
" That is a cruel letter, Sally," said Alice, as
she handed it back to her. " But we all have
our troubles. That man is unworthy of you.
Think no more about him."
" What is the matter ?" inquired Mrs. Archer,
hearing the counsel given and the sobs with which
it was received. " Sally, what is the matter ? "
Sally made no answer ; but Alice said,
" Mr. Cherryfield has fallen in love with some-
A TALE. 43
cc Is that all ? " said Mrs. Archer, evidently
relieved. " She ought to be very glad of it.
Why does she want to be married ? She had
much better stay with us ; particularly now that
I am blind."
When Sally heard this last word, she looked
up in consternation. In a moment she forgot
her own grief to sympathize with Alice and her
mother. She wanted to do a thousand things at
once ; to go here ; to send there ; to get
this and that ; and particularly to call all the
doctors in the neighbourhood. Alice assured
her it would be of no avail, though she finally
consented that one should be sent for.
Sally went in search of him. On her way, her
thoughts reverted to herself ; and, to use her own
phrase, " she curbed in like a stage-horse," as
she walked. This state of haughty and offended
pride continued for some hours after her return
home. Later in the day, she assumed a decent
composure, and requested that the man she
scorned to name him might never again be
mentioned in her hearing. Thus was her whole
dream of felicity swept away by the tide of fate,
as the nest of a ground-swallow by an inundation.
It had been built too low to be secure.
Some women, after a burst of passionate tears,
are soft, gentle, affectionate ; a warm and genial
air succeeds the rain. Others clear up cold, and
are breezy, bleak, and dismal. Of the latter class
was Sally Manchester. She became embittered
against all men on account of one ; and was often
heard to say that she thought women were fools
to be married, and that, for one, she would not
marry any man, let him be who he might, not
The village doctor came. He was a large
man, of the cheerful kind ; vigorous, florid, en-
couraging ; and pervaded by an indiscriminate
odor of drugs. Loud voice, large cane, thick
boots ; every thing about him synonymous with
noise. His presence in the sick-room was like
martial music, inspiriting, but loud. He sel-
dom left it without saying to the patient, " I hope
you will feel more comfortable to-morrow," or,
" When your fever leaves you, you will be bet-
ter." But, in this instance, he could not go so
far. Even his hopefulness was not sufficient for
the emergency. Mrs. Archer was blind, be-
yond remedy, beyond hope, irrevocably blind !
A TALE. 45
ON the following morning, very early, as the
school-master stood at his door, inhaling the
bright, wholesome air, and beholding the shadows
of the rising sun, and the flashing dew-drops
on the red vine-leaves, he heard the sound
of wheels, and saw Mr. Pendexter and his wife
drive down the village street in their old-fashioned
chaise, known by all the boys in town as " the
ark." The old white horse, that for so many
years had stamped at funerals, and gnawed the
tops of so many posts, and imagined he killed so
many flies because he wagged the stump of a tail,
and, finally, had been the cause of so much dis-
cord in the parish, seemed now to make common
cause with his master, and stepped as if endeav-
ouring to shake the dust from his feet as he passed
out of the ungrateful village. Under the axle-tree
hung suspended a leather trunk ; and in the chaise,
between the two occupants, was a large bandbox,
which forced Mr. Pendexter to let his legs hang
out of the vehicle, and gave him the air of imi-
tating the Scriptural behaviour of his horse.
Gravely and from a distance he saluted the
school-master, who saluted him in return, with a
tear in his eye, that no man saw, but which,
nevertheless, was not unseen.
cc Farewell, poor old man ! " said the school-
master within himself, as he shut out the cold
autumnal air, and entered his comfortable study.
" We are not worthy of thee, or we should have
had thee with us forever. Go back again to the
place of thy childhood, the scene of thine early
labors and thine early love ; let thy days end
where they began, and like the emblem of eter-
nity, let the serpent of life coil itself round and
take its tail into its mouth, and be still from all
its hissings for evermore ! I would not call thee
back ; for it is better thou shouldst be where
thou art, than amid the angry contentions of this
Not all took leave of the old clergyman in so
kindly a spirit. Indeed, there was a pretty gen-
eral feeling of relief in the village, as when one
A TALE. 47
gets rid of an ill-fitting garment, or old-fashioned
hat, which one neither wishes to wear, nor is
quite willing to throw away.
Thus Mr. Pendexter departed from the village.
A few days afterwards he was seen at a fall
training, or general muster of the militia, making
a prayer on horseback, with his eyes wide
open ; a performance in which he took evident
delight, as it gave him an opportunity of going
quite at large into some of the bloodiest cam-
paigns of the ancient Hebrews.
FOR a while the school-master walked to and
fro, looking at the gleam of the sunshine on the
carpet, and revelling in his day-dreams of unwrit-
ten books, and literary fame. With these day-
dreams mingled confusedly the pattering of little
feet, and the murmuring and cooing of his children
overhead. His plans that morning, could he
have executed them, would have filled a shelf in
his library with poems and romances of his own
creation. But suddenly the vision vanished ; and
another from the actual world took its place. It
was the canvas-covered cart of the butcher, that,
like the flying wigwam of the Indian tale, flitted
before his eyes. It drove up the yard and stop-
ped at the back door ; and , the poet felt that the
sacred rest of Sunday, the God's-truce with
worldly cares, was once more at an end. A
A TALE. 49
dark hand passed between him and the land of
light. Suddenly closed the ivory gate of dreams,
and the horn gate of every-day life opened, and
he went forth to deal with the man of flesh and
" Alas ! " said he with a sigh ; u and must my
life, then, always be like the Sabbatical river of
the Jews, flowing in full stream only on the
seventh day, and sandy and arid all the rest ? "
Then he thought of his beautiful wife and
children, and added, half aloud,
" No ; not so ! Rather let me look upon the
seven days of the week as the seven magic rings
of Jarchas, each inscribed with the name of a
separate planet, and each possessing a peculiar
power ; or as the seven sacred and mysterious
stones which the pilgrims of Mecca were forced
to throw over their shoulders in the valleys of
Menah and Akbah, cursing the devil and saying
at each throw, ' God is great ! '
He found Mr. Wilmerdings, the butcher, stand-
ing beside his cart, and surrounded by five cats,
that had risen simultaneously on their hind legs,
to receive their quotidian morning's meal. Mr.
Wilmerdings not only supplied the village with
fresh provisions daily, but he likewise weighed all
the babies. There was hardly a child in town
that had not hung beneath his steelyards, tied
in a silk handkerchief, the movable weight above
sliding along the notched beam from eight pounds
to twelve. He was a young man with a very
fresh and rosy complexion, and every Monday
morning he appeared dressed in an exceedingly
white frock. He had lately married a milliner,
who sold "Dunstable and eleven-braid, open-
work and colored straws," and their bridal tour
had been to a neighbouring town to see a man
hanged for murdering his wife. A pair of huge
ox-horns branched from the gable of his slaughter-
house ; and near it stood the great pits of the
tannery, which all the school-boys thought were
filled with blood !
Perhaps no two men could be more unlike than
Mr. Churchill and Mr. Wilmerdings. Upon
such a grating, iron hinge opened the door of his
daily life ; opened into the school-room, the
theatre of those life-long labors, which theoreti-
cally are the most noble, and practically the most
vexatious in the world. Toward this, as soon
as breakfast was over, and he had played awhile
with his children, he directed his steps. On his
way, he had many glimpses into the lovely realms
A TALE. 51
of Nature, and one into those of Art, through the
medium of a placard pasted against a wall. It
was as follows :
" The subscriber professes to take profiles,
plain and shaded, which, viewed at right-angles
with the serious countenance, are warranted to be
" No trouble of adorning or dressing the person
is required. He takes infants and children at
sight, and has frames of all sizes to accommodate.
u A profile is a delineated outline of the ex-
terior form of any person's face and head, the use
of which when seen tends to vivify the affections
of those whom we esteem or love.
Ere long even this glimpse into the ideal world
had vanished ; and he felt himself bound to the
earth with a hundred invisible threads, by which a
hundred urchins were tugging and tormenting
him ; and it was only with considerable effort,
and at intervals, that his mind could soar to the
moral dignity of his profession.
Such was the school-master's life ; and a
dreary, weary life it would have been, had not
poetry from within gushed through every crack
and crevice in it. This transformed it, and made
it resemble a well, into which stones and rubbish
have been thrown ; but underneath is a spring of
fresh, pure water, which nothing external can
ever check or defile.
A TALE. 53
MR. PENDEXTER had departed. Only a few
old and middle-aged people regretted him. To
these few, something was wanting in the service
ever afterwards. They missed the accounts of
the Hebrew massacres, and the wonderful tales
of the Zumzummims ; they missed the venerable
gray hair, and the voice that had spoken to them
in childhood, and forever preserved the memory
of it in their hearts, as in the Russian church the
old hymns of the earliest centuries are still piously
The winter came, with ah 1 its affluence of
snows, and its many candidates for the vacant
pulpit. But the parish was difficult to please, as
all parishes are ; and talked of dividing itself, and
building a new church, and other extravagances,
as all parishes do. Finally it concluded to re-
main as it was, and the choice of a pastor was
The events of the winter were few in number,
and can be easily described. The following ex-
tract from a school-girl's letter to an absent
friend contains the most important :
" At school, things have gone on pretty much
as usual. Jane Brown has grown very pale.
They say she is in a consumption ; but I think it
is because she eats so many slate-pencils. One
of her shoulders has grown a good deal higher
than the other. Billy Wilmer dings has been
turned out of school for playing truant. He
promised his mother, if she would not whip him,
he would experience religion. I am sure I wish
he would ; for then he would stop looking at me
through the hole in the top of his desk. Mr.
Churchill is a .very curious man. To-day he
gave us this question in arithmetic : c One-fifth of
a hive of bees flew to the Kadamba flower ; one-
third flew to the Silandhara ; three times the
difference of these two numbers flew to an
arbor ; and one bee continued flying about,
attracted on each side by the fragrant Ketaki
and the Malati. What was the number of bees ? '
Nobody could do the sum.
A TALE. 55
" The church has been repaired, and we
have a new mahogany pulpit. Mr. Churchill
bought the old one, and had it put up in his
study. What a strange man he is ! A good many
candidates have preached for us. The only one
we like is Mr. Kavanagh. Arthur Kavanagh !
is not that a romantic name ? He is tall, very
pale, with beautiful black eyes and hair ! Sally
Alice Archer's Sally says c he is not a
man ; he is a Thaddeus of Warsaw ! ' I think
he is very handsome. And such sermons ! So
beautifully written, so different from old Mr.
Pendexter's ! He has been invited to settle
here ; but he cannot come till Spring. Last
Sunday he preached about the ruling passion.
He said that once a German nobleman, when
he was dying, had his hunting-horn blown in his
bed-room, and his hounds let in, springing and
howling about him ; and that so it was with the
ruling passions of men ; even around the death-
bed, at the well-known signal, they howled and
leaped about those that had fostered them !
Beautiful, is it not ? and so original ! He said
in another sermon, that disappointments feed and
nourish us in the desert places of life, as the
ravens did the Prophet in the wilderness ; and
that as, in Catholic countries, the lamps lighted
before the images of saints, in narrow and danger-
ous streets, not only served as offerings of devo-
tion, but likewise as lights to those who passed,
so, in the dark and dismal streets of the city of
Unbelief, every good thought, word, and deed
of a man, not only was an offering to heaven, but
likewise served to light him and others on their
way homeward ! I have taken a good many
notes of Mr. Kavanagh's sermons, which you
shall see when you come back.
u Last week we had a sleigh-ride, with six
white horses. We went like the wind over the
hollows in the snow ; the driver called them
' thank-you-ma'ams,' because they make every
body bow. And such a frantic ball as we had at
Beaverstock ! I wish you had been there ! We
did not get home till two o'clock in the morning ;
and the next day Hester Green's minister asked
her if she did not feel the fire of a certain place
growing hot under her feet, while she was
" The new fashionable boarding-school begins
next week. The prospectus has been sent to our
house. One of the regulations is, ' Young ladies
are not allowed to cross their benders in school ' !
A TALE. 57
Papa says he never heard them called so before.
Old Mrs. Plainfield is gone at last. Just before
she died, her Irish chamber-maid asked her if she
wanted to be buried with her false teeth in !
There has not been a single new engagement
since you went away. But somebody asked me
the other day if you were engaged to Mr. Pills-
bury. I was very angry. Pillsbury, indeed !
He is old enough to be your father !
" What a long, rambling letter I am writing
you ! and only because you will be so naughty
as to stay away and leave me all alone. If you
could have seen the moon last night ! But what
a goose I am ! as if you did not see it ! Was
it not glorious ? You cannot imagine, dearest,
how every hour in the day I wish you were here
with me. I know you would sympathize with
all my feelings, which Hester does not at all.
For, if I admire the moon, she says I am roman-
tic, and, for her part, if there is any thing she
despises, it is the moon ! and that she prefers
a snug, warm bed (O, horrible !) to all the moons
in the universe ! "
THE events mentioned in this letter were the
principal ones that occurred during the winter.
The case of Billy Wilmerdings grew quite
desperate. In vain did his father threaten and
the school-master expostulate ; he was only the
more sullen and stubborn. In vain did his
mother represent to his weary mind, that, if he
did not study, the boys who knew the dead
languages would throw stones at him in the street ;
he only answered that he should like to see them
try it. Till, finally, having lost many of his
illusions, and having even discovered that his
father was not the greatest man in the world,
on the breaking up of the ice in the river, to his
own infinite relief and that of the whole village,
he departed on a coasting trip in a fore-and-aft
schooner, which constituted the entire navigation
A TALE. 59
Mr. Churchill had really put up in his study the
old white, wine-glass-shaped pulpit. It served
as a play-house for his children, who, whether
in it or out of it, daily preached to his heart,
and were a living illustration of the way to enter
into the kingdom of heaven. Moreover, he him-
self made use of it externally as a note-book,
recording his many meditations with a pencil on
the white panels. The following will serve as
a specimen of this pulpit eloquence :
Morality without religion is only a kind of
dead-reckoning, an endeavour to find our place
on a cloudy sea by measuring the distance we
have run, but without any observation of the
Many readers judge of the power of a book
by the shock it gives their feelings, as some
savage tribes determine the power of muskets by
their recoil ; that being considered best which
fairly prostrates the purchaser.
Men of genius are often dull and inert in
society ; as the blazing meteor, when it descends
to earth, is only a stone.
The natural alone is permanent. Fantastic
idols may be worshipped for a while ; but at
length they are overturned by the continual and
silent progress of Truth, as the grim statues
of Copan have been pushed from their pedestals
by the growth of forest-trees, whose seeds were
sown by the wind in the ruined walls.
The every-day cares and duties, which men
call drudgery, are the weights and counterpoises
of the clock of time, giving its pendulum a true
vibration, and its hands a regular motion ; and
when they cease to hang upon the wheels, the
pendulum no longer swings, the hands no longer
move, the clock stands still.
The same object, seen from the three differ-
ent points of view, the Past, the Present, and
the Future, often exhibits three different faces
to us ; like those sign-boards over shop doors,
which represent the face of a lion as we ap-
proach, of a man when we are in front, and of
an ass when we have passed.
In character, in manners, in style, in all things,
the supreme excellence is simplicity.
A TALE. 61
With many readers, brilliancy of style passes
for affluence of thought ; they mistake buttercups
in the grass for immeasurable gold mines under
The motives and purposes of authors are not
always so pure and high, as, in the enthusiasm
of youth, we sometimes imagine. To many the
trumpet of fame is nothing but a tin horn to call
them home, like laborers from the field, at dinner-
time ; and they think themselves lucky to get the
The rays of happiness, like those of light, are
colorless when unbroken.
Critics are sentinels in the grand army of
letters, stationed at the corners of newspapers
and reviews, to challenge every new author.
The country is lyric, the town dramatic.
When mingled, they make the most perfect
musical drama. .
Our passions never wholly die ; but in the
last cantos of life's romantic epos, they rise up
again and do battle, like some of Ariosto's he-
roes, who have already been quietly interred,
and ought to be turned to dust.
This country is not priest-ridden, but press-
Some critics have the habit of rowing up
the Heliconian rivers with their backs turned,
so as to see the landscape precisely as the poet
did not see it. Others see faults in a book much
larger than the book itself ; as Sancho Panza,
with his eyes blinded, beheld from his wooden
horse the earth no larger than a grain of mus-
tard-seed, and the men and women on it as large
Like an inundation of the Indus is the course
of Time. We look for the homes of our child-
hood, they are gone ; for the friends of our child-
hood, they are gone. The loves and animosities
of youth, where are they ? Swept away like the
camps that had been pitched in the sandy bed
of the river.
As no saint can be canonized until the Devil's
A TALE. 63
Advocate has exposed all his evil deeds, and
showed why he should not be made a saint, so no
poet can take his station among the gods until
the critics have said all that can be said against
It is curious to note the old sea-margins of
human thought ! Each subsiding century reveals
some new mystery ; we build where monsters
used to hide themselves.
AT length the Spring came, and brought the
birds, and the flowers, and Mr. Kavanagh, the
new clergyman, who was ordained with all the
pomp and ceremony usual on such occasions.
The opening of the season furnished also the
theme of his first discourse, which some of the
congregation thought very beautiful, and others
Ah, how wonderful is the advent of the
Spring ! the great annual miracle of the blos-
soming of Aaron's rod, repeated on myriads and
myriads of branches ! the gentle progression
and growth of herbs, flowers, trees, gentle,
and yet irrepressible, which no force can stay,
no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way
and cannot be withstood by any human power,
because itself is divine power. If Spring came
A TALE. 65
but once in a century, instead of once a year,
or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake,
and not in silence, what wonder and expectation
would there be in all hearts to behold the mi-
raculous change !
But now the silent succession suggests nothing
but necessity. To most men, only the cessation
of the miracle would be miraculous, and the per-
petual exercise of God's power seems less won-
derful than its withdrawal would be. We are
like children who are astonished and delighted
only by the second-hand of the clock, not by
Such was the train of thought with which
Kavanagh commenced his sermon. And then,
with deep solemnity and emotion, he proceeded
to speak of the Spring of the soul, as from its
cheerless wintry distance it turns nearer and
nearer to the great Sun, and clothes its dry and
withered branches anew with leaves and blossoms,
unfolded from within itself, beneath the pene-
trating and irresistible influence.
While delivering the discourse, Kavanagh had
not succeeded so entirely in abstracting him-
self from all outward things as not to note in
some degree its effect upon his hearers. As in
modern times no applause is permitted in our
churches, however moved the audience may be,
and, consequently, no one dares wave his hat and
shout, u Orthodox Chrysostom ! Thirteenth
Apostle ! Worthy the Priesthood ! " as was
done in the days of the Christian Fathers ; and,
moreover, as no one after church spoke to him
of his sermon, or of any thing else, he went
home with rather a heavy heart, and a feeling
of discouragement. One thing had cheered and
consoled him. It was the pale countenance of
a young girl, whose dark eyes had been fixed
upon him during the whole discourse with un-
flagging interest and attention. She sat alone
in a pew near the pulpit. It was Alice Archer.
Ah ! could he have known how deeply sank his
words into that simple heart, he might have
shuddered with another kind of fear than that
of not moving his audience sufficiently !
A TALE. 67
ON the following morning Kavanagh sat musing
upon his worldly affairs, and upon various lit-
tle household arrangements which it would be
necessary for him to make. To aid him in
these, he had taken up the village paper, and
was running over the columns of advertisements,
those narrow and crowded thoroughfares, in
which the wants and wishes of humanity display
themselves like mendicants without disguise. His
eye ran hastily over the advantageous offers
of the cheap tailors and the dealers in patent
medicines. He wished neither to be clothed
nor cured. In one place he saw that a young
lady, perfectly competent, desired to form a
class of young mothers and nurses, and to in-
struct them in the art of talking to infants so
as to interest and amuse them ; and in another,
that the firemen of Fairmeadow wished well to
those hostile editors who had called them gam-
blers, drunkards, and rioters, and hoped that they
might be spared from that great fire which they -
were told could never be extinguished ! Finally
his eye rested on the advertisement of a carpet
warehouse, in which the one-price system was
strictly adhered to. It was farther stated that a
discount would be made u to clergymen on small
salaries, feeble churches, and charitable institu-
tions." Thinking that this was doubtless the
place for one who united in himself two of these
qualifications for a discount, with a smile on
his lips, he took his hat and sallied forth into
A few days previous, Kavanagh had discovered
in the tower of the church a vacant room, which
he had immediately determined to take possession
of, and to convert into a study. From this
retreat, through the four oval windows, fronting
the four corners of the heavens, he could look
down upon the streets, the roofs and gardens of
the village, on the winding river, the meadows,
the farms, the distant blue mountains. Here
he could sit and meditate, in that peculiar sense
of seclusion and spiritual elevation, that entire
separation from the world below, which a cham-
ber in a tower always gives. Here, uninter-
rupted and aloof from all intrusion, he could
pour his heart into those discourses, with which
he hoped to reach and move the hearts of his
It was to furnish this retreat, that he went forth
on the Monday morning after his first sermon.
He was not long in procuring the few things
needed, the carpet, the table, the chairs, the
shelves for books ; and was returning thought-
fully homeward, when his eye was caught by a
sign-board on the corner of the street, inscribed
" Moses Merry weather, Dealer in Singing Birds,
foreign and domestic." He saw also a whole
chamber window transformed into a cage, in
which sundry canary-birds, and others of gayer
plumage, were jargoning together, like people
in the market-places of foreign towns. At the
sight of these old favorites, a long slumbering
passion awoke within him ; and he straightway
ascended the dark wooden staircase, with the
intent of enlivening his solitary room with the
vivacity and songs of these captive ballad-singers.
In a moment he found himself in a little room
hung round with cages, roof and walls ; full of
sunshine ; full of twitterings, cooings, and flutter-
ings ; full of downy odors, suggesting nests, and
dovecots, and distant islands inhabited only by
birds. The taxidermist the Selkirk of the
sunny island was not there ; but a young lady
of noble mien, who was looking at an English
goldfinch in a square cage with a portico, turned
upon him, as he entered, a fair and beautiful face,
shaded by long, light locks, in which the sunshine
seemed entangled, as among the boughs of trees.
That face he had never seen before, and yet it
seemed familiar to him ; and the added light in
her large, celestial eyes, and the almost imper-
ceptible expression that passed over her face,
showed that she knew who he was.
At the same moment the taxidermist presented
himself, coming from an inner room ; a little
man in gray, with spectacles upon his nose,
holding in his hands, with wings and legs drawn
close and smoothly together, like the green husks
of the maize ear, a beautiful carrier-pigeon, who
turned up first one bright eye and then the other,
as if asking, "What are you going to do with
me now ? " This silent inquiry was soon an-
swered by Mr. Merryweather, who said to the
A TALE. 71
" Here, Miss Vaughan, is the best carrier-
pigeon in my whole collection. The real Co-
lumba Tabullaria. He is about three years
old, as you can see by his wattle."
"A very pretty bird," said the lady; "and
how shall I train it ? "
"O, that is very easy. You have only to keep
it shut up for a few days, well fed and well
treated. Then take it in an open cage to the
place you mean it to fly to, and do the same
thing there. Afterwards it will give you no
trouble ; it will always fly between those two
" That, certainly, is not very difficult. At all
events, I will make the trial. You may send the
bird home to me. On what shall I feed it ? "
" On any kind of grain, barley and buck-
wheat are best ; and remember to let it have a
plenty of gravel in the bottom of its cage."
" I will not forget. Send me the bird to-day,
With these words she departed, much too
soon for Kavanagh, who was charmed with her
form, her face, her voice ; and who, when left
alone with the little taxidermist, felt that the
momentary fascination of the place was gone.
He heard no longer the singing of the birds ; he
saw no longer their gay plumage ; and having
speedily made the purchase of a canary and a
cage, he likewise departed, thinking of the carrier-
pigeons of Bagdad, and the columbaries of Egypt,
stationed at fixed intervals as relays and resting-
places for the flying post. With an indefinable
feeling of sadness, too, came wafted like a per-
fume through his memory those tender, melan-
choly lines of Maria del Occidente :
" And as the dove, to far Palmyra flying,
From where her native founts of Antioch beam,
Weary, exhausted, longing, panting, sighing,
Lights sadly at the desert's bitter stream j
So many a soul, o'er life's drear desert faring,
Love's pure, congenial spring unfound, unquaffed,
Suffers, recoils, then, thirsty and despairing
Of what it would, descends and sips the nearest draught."
Meanwhile, Mr. Merry weather, left to him-
self, walked about his aviary, musing, and talking
to his birds. Finally he paused before the tin
cage of a gray African parrot, between which
and himself there was a strong family likeness,
and, giving it his finger to peck and perch upon,
conversed with it in that peculiar dialect with
A TALE. 73
which it had often made vocal the distant groves
of Zanguebar. He then withdrew to the inner
room, where he resumed his labor of stuffing a
cardinal grossbeak, saying to himself between
" I wonder what Miss Cecilia Vaughan means
to do with a carrier-pigeon ! "
Some mysterious connection he had evidently
established already between this pigeon and Mr.
Kavanagh ; for, continuing his revery, he said,
" Of course she would never think of marrying
a poor clergyman ! "
THE old family mansion of the Vaughans
stood a little out of town, in the midst of a
pleasant farm. The county road was not near
enough to annoy ; and the rattling wheels and
little clouds of dust seemed like friendly saluta-
tions from travellers as they passed. They
spoke of safety and companionship, and took
away all loneliness from the solitude.
On three sides, the farm was inclosed by
willow and alder hedges, and the flowing wall
of a river ; nearer the house were groves
clear of all underwood, with rocky knolls, and
breezy bowers of beech ; and afar off the blue
hills broke the horizon, creating secret longings
for what lay beyond them, and filling the mind
with pleasant thoughts of Prince Rasselas and the
A TALE. 75
The house was one of the few old houses still
standing in New England; a large, square
building, with a portico in front, whose door
in Summer time stood open from morning until
night. A pleasing stillness reigned about it ;
and soft gusts of pine-embalmed air, and distant
cawings from the crow-haunted mountains, filled
its airy and ample halls.
In this old-fashioned house had Cecilia Vaughan
grown up to maidenhood. The travelling shad-
ows of the clouds on the hill-sides, the sudden
Summer wind, that lifted the languid leaves, and
rushed from field to field, from grove to grove,
the forerunner of the rain, and, most of all,
the mysterious mountain, whose coolness was a
perpetual invitation to her, and whose silence a
perpetual fear, fostered her dreamy and poetic
temperament. Not less so did the reading of
poetry and romance in the long, silent, solitary
winter evenings. Her mother had been dead for
many years, and the memory of that mother had
become almost a religion to her. She recalled
it incessantly ; and the reverential love, which
it inspired, completely filled her soul with melan-
choly delight. Her father was a kindly old
man ; a judge in one of the courts ; digni-
fied, affable, somewhat bent by his legal erudi-
tion, as a shelf is by the weight of the books
upon it. His papers encumbered the study
table ; his law books, the study floor. They
seemed to shut out from his mind the lovely
daughter, who had grown up to womanhood
by his side, but almost without his recognition.
Always affectionate, always indulgent, he left
her to walk alone, without his stronger thought
and firmer purpose to lean upon ; and though her
education had been, on this account, somewhat
desultory, and her imagination indulged in many
dreams and vagaries, yet, on the whole, the result
had been more favorable than in many cases where
the process of instruction has been too diligently
carried on, and where, as sometimes on the roofs
of farm-houses and barns, the scaffolding has
been left to deform the building.
Cecilia's bosom-friend at school was Alice
Archer ; and, after they left school, the love be-
tween them, and consequently the letters, rather
increased than diminished. These two young
hearts found not only a delight, but a necessity
in pouring forth their thoughts and feelings to
each other ; and it was to facilitate this inter-
communication, for whose exigencies the ordi-
A TALE. 77
nary methods were now found inadequate, that
the carrier-pigeon had been purchased. He was
to be the flying post ; their bed-rooms the dove-
cots, the pure and friendly columbaria.
Endowed with youth, beauty, talent, fortune,
and, moreover, with that indefinable fascination
which has no name, Cecilia Vaughan was not
without lovers, avowed and unavowed ; young
men, who made an ostentatious display of their
affection; boys, who treasured it in their bo-
soms, as something indescribably sweet and pre-
cious, perfuming all the chambers of the heart with
its celestial fragrance. Whenever she returned
from a visit to the city, some unknown youth
of elegant manners and varnished leather boots
was sure to hover round the village inn for a few
days, was known to visit the Vaughans assid-
uously, and then silently to disappear, and be
seen no more. Of course, nothing could be
known of the secret history of such individuals ;
but shrewd surmises were formed as to their
designs and their destinies ; till finally, any well-
dressed stranger, lingering in the village without
ostensible business, was set down as " one of
Miss Vaughan's lovers."
In all this, what a contrast was there between
the two young friends ! The wealth of one and
the poverty of the other were not so strikingly
at variance, as this affluence and refluence of
love. To the one, so much was given that she
became regardless of the gift ; from the other, so
much withheld, that, if possible, she exaggerated
IN addition to these transient lovers, who were
but birds of passage, winging their way, in an
incredibly short space of time, from the torrid
to the frigid zone, there was in the village a
domestic and resident adorer, whose love for
himself, for Miss Vaughan, and for the beauti-
ful, had transformed his name from Hiram A.
Hawkins to H. Adolphus Hawkins. He was
a dealer in English linens and carpets ; a pro-
fession which of itself fills the mind with ideas
of domestic comfort. His waistcoats were made
like Lord Melbourne's in the illustrated English
papers, and his shiny hair went off to the left
in a superb sweep, like the hand-rail of a ban-
nister. He wore many rings on his fingers,
and several breast-pins and gold chains dis-
posed about his person. On all his bland physi-
ognomy was stamped, as on some of his linens,
u Soft finish for family use." Every thing
about him spoke the lady's man. He was, in
fact, a perfect ring-dove ; and, like the rest of
his species, always walked up to the female,
and, bowing his head, swelled out his white crop,
and uttered a very plaintive murmur.
Moreover, Mr. Hiram Adolphus Hawkins
was a poet, so much a poet, that, as his sister
frequently remarked, he " spoke blank verse
in the bosom of his family." The general
tone of his productions was sad, desponding,
perhaps slightly morbid. How could it be other-
wise with the writings of one who had never
been the world's friend, nor the world his ?
who looked upon himself as " a pyramid of
mind on the dark desert of despair "? and who,
at the age of twenty-five, had drunk the bitter
draught of life to the dregs, and dashed the
goblet down ? His productions were published
in the Poet's Corner of the Fairmeadow Adver-
tiser ; and it was a relief to know, that, in private
life, as his sister remarked, he was " by no
means the censorious and moody person some
of his writings might imply."
Such was the personage who assumed to
himself the perilous position of Miss Vaughan's
permanent admirer. He imagined that it was
impossible for any woman to look upon him and
not love him. Accordingly, he paraded him-
self at his shop-door as she passed ; he pa-
raded himself at the corners of the streets ;
he paraded himself at the church-steps on Sun-
day. He spied her from the window ; he sallied
from the door ; he followed her with his eyes ;
he followed her with his whole august person ;
he passed her and repassed her, and turned
back to gaze ; he lay in wait with dejected
countenance and desponding air ; he persecuted
her with his looks ; he pretended that their
souls could comprehend each other without
words ; and whenever her lovers were alluded
to in his presence, he gravely declared, as one
who had reason to know, that, if Miss Vaughan
ever married, it would be some one of gigantic
Of these persecutions Cecilia was for a long
time the unconscious victim. She saw this
individual, with rings and strange waistcoats, per-
forming his gyrations before her, but did not
suspect that she was the centre of attraction,
not imagining that any man would begin his
wooing with such outrages. Gradually the truth
dawned upon her, and became the source of
indescribable annoyance, which was augmented
by a series of anonymous letters, written in a
female hand, and setting forth the excellences
of a certain mysterious relative," his modesty,
his reserve, his extreme delicacy, his talent for
poetry, rendered authentic by extracts from his
papers, made, of course, without the slightest
knowledge or suspicion on his part. Whence
came these sibylline leaves ? At first Cecilia
could not divine ; but, ere long, her woman's in-
stinct traced them to the thin and nervous hand of
the poet's sister. This surmise was confirmed by
her maid, who asked the boy that brought them.
It was with one of these missives in her hand
that Cecilia entered Mrs. Archer's house, after
purchasing the carrier-pigeon. Unannounced she
entered, and walked up the narrow and imper-
fectly lighted stairs to Alice's bed-room, that
little sanctuary draped with white, that colum-
barium lined with warmth, and softness, and
silence. Alice was not there ; but the chair
by the window, the open volume of poems on
the table, the note to Cecilia by its side, and
the ink not yet dry in the pen, were like the
A TALE. 83
vibration of a bough, when the bird has just
left it, like the rising of the grass, when the
foot has just pressed it. In a moment she re-
turned. She had been down to her mother,
who sat talking, talking, talking, with an old
friend in the parlour below, even as these young
friends were talking together, in the bed-room
above. Ah, how different were their themes !
Death and Love, apples of Sodom, that
crumble to ashes at a touch, golden fruits of
the Hesperides, golden fruits of Paradise, fra-
grant, ambrosial, perennial !
" I have just been writing to you," said Alice ;
" I wanted so much to see you this morning ! "
cc Why this morning in particular ? Has any
thing happened ? "
" Nothing, only I had such a longing to see
you ! "
And, seating herself in a low chair by Cecilia's
side, she laid her head upon the shoulder of her
friend, who, taking one of her pale, thin hands
in both her own, silently kissed her forehead
again and again.
Alice was not aware, that, in the words she
uttered, there was the slightest shadow of un-
truth. And yet had nothing happened ? Was
it nothing, that among her thoughts a new thought
had risen, like a star, whose pale effulgence,
mingled with the common daylight, was not
yet distinctly visible even to herself, but would
grow brighter as the sun grew lower, and the
rosy twilight darker ? Was it nothing, that a
new fountain of affection had suddenly sprung
up within her, which she mistook for the fresh-
ening and overflowing of the old fountain of
friendship, that hitherto had kept the lowland
landscape of her life so green, but now, being
flooded by more affection, was not to cease,
but only to disappear in the greater tide, and
flow unseen beneath it ? Yet so it was ; and
this stronger yearning this unappeasable de-
sire for her friend was only the tumultuous
swelling of a heart, that as yet knows not its
u I am so glad to see you, Cecilia ! " she con-
tinued. u You are so beautiful ! I love so
much to sit and look at you ! Ah, how I wish
Heaven had made me as tall, and strong, and
beautiful as you are ! "
" You little flatterer ! What an affectionate,
lover-like friend you are ! What have you been
doing all the morning ? "
" Looking out of the window, thinking of you,
and writing you this letter, to beg you to come
and see me."
" And I have been buying a carrier-pigeon, to
fly between us, and carry all our letters."
" That will be delightful."
<c He is to be sent home to-day ; and after he
gets accustomed to my room, I shall send him
here, to get acquainted with yours ; a lachimo
in my Imogen's bed-chamber, to spy out its
" If he sees Cleopatra in these white curtains,
and silver Cupids in these andirons, he will have
" He will see the book with the leaf turned
down, and you asleep, and tell me all about
" A carrier-pigeon ! What a charming idea !
and how like you to think of it ! "
" But to-day I have been obliged to bring my
own letters. I have some more sibylline leaves
from my anonymous correspondent, in laud and
exaltation of her modest relative, who speaks
blank verse in the bosom of his family. I have
brought them to read you some extracts, and to
take your advice ; for, really and seriously, this
must be stopped. It has grown too annoying."
" How much love you have offered you ! "
said Alice, sighing.
" Yes, quite too much of this kind. On my
way here, I saw the modest relative, standing at
the corner of the street, hanging his head in this
And she imitated the melancholy Hiram Adol-
phus, and the young friends laughed.
" I hope you did not notice him ? " resumed
" Certainly not. But what do you suppose he
'did ? As soon as he saw me, he began to walk
backward down the street only a short distance in
front of me, staring at me most impertinently.
Of course, I took no notice of this strange con-
duct. I felt myself blushing to the eyes with in-
dignation, and yet could hardly suppress my
desire to laugh."
u If you had laughed, he would have taken it
for an encouragement ; and I have no doubt it
would have brought on the catastrophe."
u And that would have ended the matter. I
half wish I had laughed."
" But think of the immortal glory of marrying
a poet ! "
" And of inscribing on my cards, Mrs. Hiram
Adolphus Hawkins ! "
A TALE. 87
" A few days ago, I went to buy something at
his shop ; and, leaning over the counter, he asked
me if I had seen the sun set the evening before,
adding, that it was gorgeous, and that the grass
and trees were of a beautiful Paris green ! "
And again the young friends gave way to their
" One thing, dear Alice, you must consent to
do for me. You must write to Miss Martha
Amelia, the author of all these epistles, and tell
her very plainly how indelicate her conduct is,
and how utterly useless all such proceedings will
prove in effecting her purpose."
u I will write this very day. You shall be no
" And now let me give you a few extracts
from these wonderful epistles."
So saying, Cecilia drew forth a small package
of three-cornered billets, tied with a bit of pink
ribbon. Taking one of them at random, she was
on the point of beginning, but paused, as if her
attention had been attracted by something out of
doors. The sound of passing footsteps was
heard on the gravel walk.
" There goes Mr. Kavanagh," said she, in a
Alice rose suddenly from her low chair at
Cecilia's side, and the young friends looked from
the window to see the clergyman pass.
u How handsome he is ! " said Alice, invol-
u He is, indeed."
At that moment Alice started back from the
window. Kavanagh had looked up in passing, as
if his eye had been drawn by some secret magnet-
ism. A bright color flushed the cheek of Alice ;
her eyes fell ; but Cecilia continued to look
steadily into the street. Kavanagh passed on,
and in a few moments was out of sight.
The two friends stood silent, side by side.
A TALE. 89
ARTHUR KAVANAGH was descended from an
ancient Catholic family. His ancestors had pur-
chased from the Baron Victor of St. Castine a
portion of his vast estates, lying upon that wild
and wonderful sea-coast of Maine, which, even
upon the map, attracts the eye hy its singular and
picturesque indentations, and fills the heart of the
beholder with something of that delight which
throbbed in the veins of Pierre du Gast, when,
with a royal charter of the land from the Atlantic
to the Pacific, he sailed down the coast in all the
pride of one who is to be prince of such a vast
domain. Here, in the bosom of the solemn
forests, they continued the practice of that faith
which had first been planted there by Rasle and
St. Castine ; and the little church where they
worshipped is still standing, though now as closed
and silent as the graves which surround it, and in
which the dust of the Kavanaghs lies buried.
In these solitudes, in this faith, was Kavanagh
born, and grew to childhood, a feeble, delicate
boy, watched over by a grave and taciturn father,
and a mother who looked upon him with infinite
tenderness, as upon a treasure she should not long
retain. She walked with him by the sea-side,
and spake to him of God, and the mysterious
majesty of the ocean, with its tides and tempests.
She sat with him on the carpet of golden threads
beneath the aromatic pines, and, as the perpetual
melancholy sound ran along the rattling boughs,
his soul seemed to rise and fall, with a motion and
a whisper like those in the branches over him.
She taught him his letters from the Lives of the
Saints, a volume full of wondrous legends, and
illustrated with engravings from pictures by the
old masters, which opened to him at once the
world of spirits and the world of art ; and both
were beautiful. She explained to him the pic-
tures ; she read to him the legends, the lives
of holy men and women, full of faith and good
works, things which ever afterward remained
associated together in his mind. Thus holiness
of life, and self-renunciation, and devotion to duty,
A TALE. 91
were early impressed upon his soul. To his
quick imagination, the spiritual world became
real ; the holy company of the saints stood round
about the solitary boy ; his guardian angels led
him by the hand by day, and sat by his pillow at
night. At times, even, he wished to die, that he
might see them and talk with them, and return no
more to his weak and weary body.
Of all the legends of the mysterious book, that
which most delighted and most deeply impressed
him was the legend of St. Christopher. The pic-
ture was from a painting of Paolo Farinato, rep-
resenting a figure of gigantic strength and stature,
leaning upon a staff, and bearing the infant Christ
on his bending shoulders across the rushing
river. The legend related, that St. Christopher,
being of huge proportions and immense strength,
wandered long about the world before his con-
version, seeking for the greatest king, and willing
to obey no other. After serving various masters,
whom he in turn deserted, because each recog-
nized by some word or sign another greater than
himself, he heard by chance of Christ, the king
of heaven and earth, and asked of a holy hermit
where he might be found, and how he might serve
him. The hermit told him he must fast and
pray ; but the giant replied that if he fasted he
should lose his strength, and that he did not know
how to pray. Then the hermit told him to take
up his abode on the banks of a dangerous moun-
tain torrent, where travellers were often drowned
in crossing, and to rescue any that might be in
peril. The giant obeyed ; and tearing up a palm-
tree by the roots for a staff, he took his station by
the river's side, and saved many lives. And the
Lord looked down from heaven and said, u Be-
hold this strong man, who knows not yet the way
to worship, but has found the way to serve me ! "
And one night he heard the voice of a child,
crying in the darkness and saying, " Christo-
pher ! come and bear me over the river ! "
And he went out, and found the child sitting alone
on the margin of the stream ; and taking him upon
his shoulders, he waded into the water. Then
the wind began to roar, and the waves to rise
higher and higher about him, and. his little burden,
which at first had seemed so light, grew heavier
and heavier as he advanced, and bent his huge
shoulders down, and put his life in peril ; so that,
when he reached the shore, he said, u Who art
thou, O child, that hast weighed upon me with a
weight, as if I had borne the whole world upon
my shoulders ? " And the little
u Thou hast borne the whole world
shoulders, and Him who created it. I am Christ,
whom thou by thy deeds of charity wouldst serve.
Thou and thy service are accepted. Plant thy
staff in the ground, and it shall blossom and bear
fruit ! " With these words, the child vanished
There was something in this beautiful legend
that entirely captivated the heart of the boy,
and a vague sense of its hidden meaning seemed
at times to seize him and control him. Later in
life it became more and more evident to him, and
remained forever in his mind as a lovely allegory
of active charity and a willingness to serve. Like
the giant's staff, it blossomed and bore fruit.
But the time at length came, when his father
decreed that he must be sent away to school. It
was not meet that his son should be educated as a
girl. He must go to the Jesuit college in Can-
ada. Accordingly, one bright Summer morning,
he departed with his father, on horseback, through
those majestic forests that stretch with almost un-
broken shadows from the sea to the St. Law-
rence, leaving behind him all the endearments of
home, and a wound in his mother's heart that
never ceased to ache, a longing, unsatisfied
and insatiable, for her absent Arthur, who had
gone from her perhaps for ever.
At college he distinguished himself by his zeal
for study, by the docility, gentleness, and gener-
osity of his nature. There he was thoroughly
trained in the classics, and in the dogmas of that
august faith, whose turrets gleam with such crys-
talline light, and whose dungeons are so deep, and
dark, and terrible. The study of philosophy and
theology was congenial to his mind. Indeed, he
often laid aside Homer for Parmenides, and
turned from the odes of Pindar and Horace to the
mystic hymns of Cleanthes and Synesius.
The uniformity of college life was broken only
by the annual visit home in the Summer vacation ;
the joyous meeting, the bitter parting ; the long
journey to and fro through the grand, solitary,
mysterious forest. To his mother these visits
were even more precious than to himself; for
ever more and more they added to her boundless
affection the feeling of pride and confidence and
satisfaction, the joy and beauty of a youth un-
spotted from the world, and glowing with the en-
thusiasm of virtue.
At length his college days were ended. He
A TALE. 95
returned home full of youth, full of joy and hope ;
but it was only to receive the dying blessings of
his mother, who expired in peace, having seen his
face once more. Then the house became empty
to him. Solitary was the sea-shore, solitary were
the woodland walks. But the spiritual world
seemed nearer and more real. For affairs he had
no aptitude ; and he betook himself again to his
philosophic and theological studies. He ponder-
ed with fond enthusiasm on the rapturous pages
of Molinos and Madame Guy on ; and in a spirit
akin to that which wrote, he read the writings of
Santa Theresa, which he found among his moth-
er's books, the Meditations, the Road to Per-
fection, and the Moradas, or Castle of the
Soul. She, too, had lingered over those pages
with delight, and there were many passages
marked by her own hand. Among them was
this, which he often repeated to himself in his
lonely walks : u O, Life, Life ! how canst thou
sustain thyself, being absent from thy Life ? In
so great a solitude, in what shalt thou employ thy-
self ? What shalt thou do, since all thy deeds
are faulty and imperfect ? "
In such meditations passed many weeks and
months. But mingled with them, continually and
ever with more distinctness, arose in his memory
from the days of childhood the old tradition of
Saint Christopher, the beautiful allegory of
humility and labor. He and his service had been
accepted, though he would not fast, and had not
learned to pray ! It became more and more
clear to him, that the life of man consists not in
seeing visions, and in dreaming dreams, but in
active charity and willing service.
Moreover, the study of ecclesiastical history
awoke within him many strange and dubious
thoughts. The books taught him more than their
writers meant to teach. It was impossible to
read of Athanasius without reading also of Arian ;
it was impossible to hear of Calvin without hear-
ing of Servetus. Reason began more energeti-
cally to vindicate itself ; that Reason, which is a
light in darkness, not that which is u a thorn in
Revelation's side." The search after Truth and
Freedom, both intellectual and spiritual, became
a passion in his soul ; and he pursued it until he
had left far behind him many dusky dogmas,
many antique superstitions, many time-honored
observances, which the lips of her alone, who
first taught them to him in his childhood, had
invested with solemnity and sanctity.
A TALE. 97
By slow degrees, and not by violent spiritual
conflicts, he became a Protestant. He had but
passed from one chapel to another in the same
vast cathedral. He was still beneath the same
ample roof, still heard the same divine service
chanted in a different dialect of the same universal
language- Out of his old faith he brought with
him all he had found in it that was holy and pure
and of good report. Not its bigotry, and fanati-
cism, and intolerance ; but its zeal, its self-devo-
tion, its heavenly aspirations, its human sympa-
thies, its endless deeds of charity. Not till after
his father's death, however, did he become a
clergyman. Then his vocation was manifest to
him. He no longer hesitated, but entered upon
its many duties and responsibilities, its many
trials and discouragements, with the zeal of Peter
and the gentleness of John.
A WEEK later, and Kavanagh was installed in
his little room in the church- tower. A week
later, and the carrier-pigeon was on the wing.
A week later, and Martha Amelia's anonymous
epistolary eulogies of her relative had ceased
Swiftly and silently the Summer advanced,
and the following announcement in the Fair-
meadow Advertiser proclaimed the hot weather
and its alleviations :
" I have the pleasure of announcing to the
Ladies and Gentlemen of Fairmeadow and its
vicinity, that my Bath House is now completed,
and ready for the reception of those who are
disposed to regale themselves in a luxury peculiar
to the once polished Greek and noble Roman.
A TALE. 99
u To the Ladies I will say, that Tuesday of
each week will be appropriated to their exclu-
sive benefit ; the white flag will be the signal ;
and I assure the Ladies, that due respect shall
be scrupulously observed, and that they shall
be guarded from each vagrant foot and each
Moreover, the village was enlivened by the
usual travelling shows, the wax-work figures
representing Eliza Wharton and the Salem
Tragedy, to which clergymen and their families
were u respectfully invited, free on presenting
their cards " ; a stuffed shark, that had eaten
the exhibitor's father in Lynn bay ; the me-
nagerie, with its loud music and its roars of rage ;
the circus, with its tan and tinsel, its faded
columbine and melancholy clown ; and, finally,
the standard drama, in which Elder Evans, like
an ancient Spanish Bululu, impersonated all the
principal male characters, and was particularly
imposing in lago and the Moor, having half his
face lamp-blacked, and turning now the luminous,
now the eclipsed side to the audience, as the
exigencies of the dialogue demanded.
There was also a great Temperance Jubilee,
with a procession, in which was conspicuous a
large horse, whose shaven tail was adorned with
gay ribbons, and whose rider bore a banner with
the device, " Shaved in the Cause " ! More-
over, the Grand Junction Railroad was opened
through the town, running in one direction to the
ciiy, and in the other into unknown northern
regions, stringing the white villages like pearls
upon its black thread. By this, the town lost
much of its rural quiet and seclusion. The in-
habitants became restless and ambitious. They
were in constant excitement and alarm, like
children in story-books hidden away somewhere
by an ogre, who visits them regularly every
day and night, and occasionally devours one of
them for a meal.
Nevertheless, most of the inhabitants con-
sidered the railroad a great advantage to the
village. Several ladies were heard to say that
Fairmeadow had grown quite metropolitan ; and
Mrs. Wilmerdings, who suffered under a chronic
suspension of the mental faculties, had a vague
notion, probably connected with the profession
of her son, that it was soon to become a sea-
A TALE. 101
In the fields and woods, meanwhile, there were
other signs and signals of the Summer. The
darkening foliage ; the embrowning grain ; the
golden dragon-fly haunting the blackberry-bushes ;
the cawing crows, that looked down from the
mountain on the corn-field, and waited day after
day for the scarecrow to finish his work and
depart ; and the smoke of far-off burning woods,
that pervaded the air and hung in purple haze
about the summits of the mountains, these were
the avant-couriers and attendants of the hot
Kavanagh had now completed the first great
cycle of parochial visits. He had seen the
Vaughans, the Archers, the Churchills, and also
the Hawkinses and the Wilmerdingses, and many
more. With Mr. Churchill he had become
intimate. They had many points of contact
and sympathy. They walked together on leisure
afternoons ; they sat together through long Sum-
mer evenings ; they discoursed with friendly
zeal on various topics of literature, religion,
Moreover, he worked assiduously at his ser-
mons. He preached the doctrines of Christ.
He preached holiness, self-denial, love ; and his
hearers remarked that he almost invariably took
his texts from the Evangelists, as much as
possible from the words of Christ, and seldom
from Paul, or the Old Testament. He did not
so much denounce vice, as inculcate virtue ;
he did not deny, but affirm ; he did not lacerate
the hearts of his hearers with doubt and dis-
belief, but consoled, and comforted, and healed
them with faith.
The only danger was that he might advance
too far, and leave his congregation behind him ;
as a piping shepherd, who, charmed with his
own music, walks over the flowery mead, not
perceiving that his tardy flock is lingering far
behind, more intent upon cropping the thymy
food around them, than upon listening to the
celestial harmonies that are gradually dying away
in the distance.
His words were always kindly ; he brought
no railing accusation against any man ; he dealt
in no exaggerations nor over-statements. But
while he was gentle, he was firm. He did not
refrain from reprobating intemperance because
one of his deacons owned a distillery ; nor war,
because another had a contract for supplying the
army with muskets ; nor slavery, because one
A TALE. 103
of the great men of the village slammed his
pew-door, and left the church with a grand air,
as much as to say, that all that sort of thing
would not do, and the clergy had better confine
itself to abusing the sins of the Hindoos, and
let our domestic institutions alone.
In affairs ecclesiastical he had not suggested
many changes. One that he had much at heart
was, that the partition wall between parish and
church should be quietly taken down, so that all
should sit together at the Supper of the Lord.
He also desired that the organist should relinquish
the old and pernicious habit of preluding with
triumphal marches, and running his fingers at
random over the keys of his instrument, playing
scraps of secular music very slowly to make
them sacred, and substitute instead some of the
beautiful symphonies of Pergolesi, Palestrina, and
He held that sacred melodies were becoming
to sacred themes ; and did not wish, that, in his
church, as in some of the French Canadian
churches, the holy profession of religion should
be sung to the air of " When one is dead 't is for
a long time," the commandments, aspirations for
heaven, and the necessity of thinking of one's sal-
vation, to " The Follies of Spain," " Louisa was
sleeping in a grove," or a grand " March of the
The study in the tower was delightful. There
sat the young apostle, and meditated the great
design and. purpose of his life, the removal of all
prejudice, and uncharitableness, and persecution,
and the union of all sects into one church univer-
sal. Sects themselves he would not destroy,
but sectarianism ; for sects were to him only as
separate converging roads, leading all to the
same celestial city of peace. As he sat alone,
and thought of these things, he heard the great
bell boom above him, and remembered the
ages when in all Christendom there was but one
Church ; when bells were anointed, baptized, and
prayed for, that, wheresoever those holy bells
should sound, all deceits of Satan, all danger of
whirlwinds, thunders, lightnings, and tempests,
might be driven away, that devotion might in-
crease in every Christian when he heard them,
and that the Lord would sanctify them with his
Holy Spirit, and infuse into them the heavenly
dew of the Holy Ghost. He thought of the great
bell Guthlac, which an abbot of Croyland gave to
his monastery, and of the six others given by his
A TALE. 105
successor, so musical, that, when they all rang
together, as Ingulphus affirms, there was no ringing
in England equal to it. As he listened, the bell
seemed to breathe upon the air such clangorous
"Laudo Deum venim, plebem voco, congrego clerum,
Defunctos ploro, nimbum fugo, festaque honoro."
Possibly, also, at times, it interrupted his studies
and meditations with other words than these.
Possibly it sang into his ears, as did the bells
of Varennes into the ears of Panurge, u Marry
thee, marry thee, marry, marry ; if thou shouldst
marry, marry, marry, thou shalt find good therein,
therein, therein, so marry, marry."
From this tower of contemplation he looked
down with mingled emotions of joy and sorrow on
the toiling world below. The wide prospect
seemed to enlarge his sympathies and his char-
ities ; and he often thought of the words of Plato :
u When we consider human life, we should view
as from a high tower all things terrestrial ; such
as herds, armies, men employed in agriculture, in
marriages, divorces, births, deaths ; the tumults
of courts of justice ; desolate lands ; various
barbarous nations ; feasts, wailings, markets ; a
medley of all things, in a system adorned by con-
On the outside of the door Kavanagh had
written the vigorous line of Dante,
" Think that To-day shall never dawn again ! "
that it might always serve as a salutation and
memento to him as he entered. On the inside,
the no less striking lines of a more modern
" Lose this day loitering, 't will be the same story
To-morrow, and the next more dilatory.
The indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost, lamenting o'er lost days.
Are you in earnest ? Seize this very minute !
What you can do or think you can, begin it !
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it !
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated :
Begin it, and the work will be completed."
Once, as he sat in this retreat near noon, enjoy-
ing the silence, and the fresh air that visited him
through the oval windows, his attention was arrest-
ed by a cloud of dust, rolling along the road, out
of which soon emerged a white horse, and then
a very singular, round-shouldered, old-fashioned
chaise, containing an elderly couple, both in
A TALE. 107
black. What particularly struck him was the
gait of the horse, who had a very disdainful
fling to his hind legs. The slow equipage passed,
and would have been for ever forgotten, had not
Kavanagh seen it again at sunset, stationary at
Mr. Churchill's door, towards which he was
directing his steps.
As he entered, he met Mr. Churchill, just
taking leave of an elderly lady and gentleman in
black, whom he recognized as the travellers in the
old chaise. Mr. Churchill looked a little flushed
and disturbed, and bade his guests farewell with
a constrained air. On seeing Kavanagh, he
saluted him, and called him by name ; whereupon
the lady pursed up her mouth, and, after a quick
glance, turned away her face ; and the gentle-
man passed with a lofty look, in which curiosity,
reproof, and pious indignation were strangely
mingled. They got into the chaise, with some
such feelings as Noah and his wife may be sup-
posed to have had on entering the ark ; the
whip descended upon the old horse with unusual
vigor, accompanied by a jerk of the reins that
caused him to say within himself, " What is the
matter now ? " He then moved off at his usual
pace, and with that peculiar motion of the hind
legs which Kavanagh had perceived in the
Kavanagh found his friend not a little disturbed,
and evidently by the conversation of the departed
44 That old gentleman," said Mr. Churchill,
"is your predecessor, Mr. Pendexter. He
thinks we are in a bad way since he left us. He
considers your liberality as nothing better than
rank Arianism and infidelity. The fact is, the
old gentleman is a little soured ; the vinous fer-
mentation in his veins is now over, and the
acetous has commenced."
Kavanagh smiled, but made no answer.
44 1, of course, defended you stoutly," con-
tinued Mr. Churchill ; " but if he goes about the
village sowing such seed, there will be tares
growing with the wheat."
44 1 have no fears," said Kavanagh, very
Mr. Churchill's apprehensions were not, how-
ever, groundless ; for in the course of the week it
came out that doubts, surmises, and suspicions of
Kavanagh's orthodoxy were springing up in many
weak but worthy minds. And it was ever after
observed, that, whenever that fatal, apocalyptic
A TALE. 109
white horse and antediluvian chaise appeared
in town, many parishioners were harassed with
doubts and perplexed with theological difficulties
Nevertheless, the main current of opinion was
with him ; and the parish showed their grateful
acknowledgment of his zeal and sympathy, by
requesting him to sit for his portrait to a great
artist from the city, who was passing the Summer
months in the village for recreation, using his
pencil only on rarest occasions and as a particular
favor. To this martyrdom the meek Kavanagh
submitted without a murmur. During the prog-
ress of this work of art, he was seldom left
alone ; some one of his parishioners was there to
enliven him ; and most frequently it was Miss
Martha Amelia Hawkins, who had become very
devout of late, being zealous in the Sunday
School, and requesting her relative not to walk
between churches any more. She took a very
lively interest in the portrait, and favored with
many suggestions the distinguished artist, who
found it difficult to obtain an expression which
would satisfy the parish, some wishing to have it
grave, if not severe, and others with " Mr. Kava-
nagh's peculiar smile." Kavanagh himself was
quite indifferent about the matter, and met his
fate with Christian fortitude, in a white cravat and
sacerdotal robes, with one hand hanging down
from the back of his chair, and the other holding
a large book with the fore-finger between its
leaves, reminding Mr. Churchill of Milo with his
fingers in the oak. The expression of the face
was exceedingly bland and resigned ; perhaps a
little wanting in strength, but on the whole satis-
factory to the parish. So was the artist's price ;
nay, it was even held by some persons to be
cheap, considering the quantity of back-ground he
had put in.
A TALE. Ill
MEANWHILE, things had gone on very quietly
and monotonously in Mr. Churchill's family.
Only one event, and that a mysterious one, had
disturbed its serenity. It was the sudden disap-
pearance of Lucy, the pretty orphan girl ; and as
the booted centipede, who had so much excited
Mr. Churchill's curiosity, disappeared at the same
time, there was little doubt that they had gone
away together. But whither gone, and where-
fore, remained a mystery.
Mr. Churchill, also, had had his profile, and
those of his wife and children, taken, in a very
humble style, by Mr. Bantam, whose advertise-
ment he had noticed on his way to school nearly
a year before. His own was considered the best,
as a work of art. The face was cut out entire-
ly ; the collar of the coat velvet ; the shirt-collar
very high and white ; and the top of his head
ornamented with a crest of hair turning up in
front, though his own turned down, which
slight deviation from nature was explained and
justified by the painter as a license allowable
One evening, as he was sitting down to
begin for at least the hundredth time the great
Romance, subject of so many resolves and so
much remorse, so often determined upon but
never begun, a loud knock at the street-door,
which stood wide open, announced a visitor.
Unluckily, the study-door was likewise open ;
and consequently, being in full view, he found
it impossible to refuse himself; nor, in fact,
would he have done so, had all the doors
been shut and bolted, the art of refusing
one's self being at that time but imperfectly
understood in Fairmeadow. Accordingly, the
visitor was shown in.
He announced himself as Mr. Hathaway.
Passing through the village, he could not deny
himself the pleasure of calling on Mr. Churchill,
whom he knew by his writings in the periodicals,
though not personally. He wished, moreover, to
secure the cooperation of one already so favora-
A TALE. 113
bly blown to the literary world, in a new Maga-
zine he was about to establish, in order to raise
the character of American literature, which, in
his opinion, the existing reviews and magazines
had entirely failed to accomplish. A daily in-
creasing want of something better was felt by the
public ; and the time had come for the establish-
ment of such a periodical as he proposed. After
explaining in rather a florid and exuberant manner
his plan and prospects, he entered more at large
into the subject of American literature, which it
was his design to foster and patronize.
"I think, Mr. Churchill," said he, " that we
want a national literature commensurate with
our mountains and rivers, commensurate with
Niagara, and the Alleghanies, and the Great
Lakes ! "
" Oh !
" We want a national epic that shall corre-
spond to the size of the country ; that shall be
to all other epics what Banvard's Panorama of
the Mississippi is to all other paintings, the
largest in the world ! "
" Ah !
" We want a national drama in which scope
enough shall be given to our gigantic ideas, and
to the unparalleled activity and progress of our
people ! "
" Of course."
u In a word, we want a national literature
altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake
the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering
over the prairies ! "
" Precisely," interrupted Mr. Churchill ; " but
excuse me ! are you not confounding things
that have no analogy ? Great has a very differ-
ent meaning when applied to a river, and when
applied to a literature. Large and shallow may
perhaps be applied to both. Literature is rather
an image of the spiritual world, than of the physi-
cal, is it not ? of the internal, rather than the
external. Mountains, lakes, and rivers are, after
all, only its scenery and decorations, not its sub-
stance and essence. A man will not necessarily
be a great poet because he lives near a great
mountain. Nor, being a poet, will he necessarily
write better poems than another, because he lives
" But, Mr. Churchill, you do not certainly
mean to deny the influence of scenery on the
mind ? "
" No, only to deny that it can create genius.
A TALE. 115
At best, it can only develop it. Switzerland has
produced no extraordinary poet ; nor, as far as
I know, have the Andes, or the Himalaya moun-
tains, or the Mountains of the Moon in Africa."
" But, at all events," urged Mr. Hathaway,
" let us have our literature national. If it is not
national, it is nothing."
" On the contrary, it may be a great deal.
Nationality is a good thing to a certain extent, but
universality is better. All that is best in the great
poets of all countries is not what is national in
them, but what is universal. Their roots are in
their native soil ; but their branches wave in the
unpatriotic air, that speaks the same language unto
all men, and their leaves shine with the illimitable
light that pervades all lands. Let us throw all
the windows open ; let us admit the light and air
on all sides ; that we may look towards the four
corners of the heavens, and not always in the
" But you admit nationality to be a good
thing ? "
u Yes, if not carried too far ; still, I confess, it
rather limits one's views of truth. I prefer what
is natural. Mere nationality is often ridiculous.
Every one smiles when he hears the Icelandic
proverb, c Iceland is the best land the sun shines
upon.' Let us be natural, and we shall be nation-
al enough. Besides, our literature can be strictly
national only so far as our character and modes
of thought differ from those of other nations.
Now, as we are very like the English, are, in
fact, English under a different sky, I do not see
how our literature can be very different from
theirs. Westward from hand to hand we pass
the lighted torch, but it was lighted at the old
domestic fireside of England."
" Then you think our literature is never to be
any thing but an imitation of the English ? "
" Not at all. It is not an imitation, but, as
some one has said, a continuation."
u It seems to me that you take a very narrow
view of the subject."
" On the contrary, a very broad one. No
literature is complete until the language in which
it is written is dead. We rnay well be proud of
our task and of our position. Let us see if we
can build in any way worthy of our forefathers."
" But I insist upon originality."
"Yes; but without spasms and convulsions.
Authors must not, like Chinese soldiers, expect
to win victories by turning somersets in the air."
A TALE. 117
u Well, really, the prospect from your point
of view is not very brilliant. Pray, what do you
think of our national literature ? "
u Simply, that a national literature is not the
growth of a day. Centuries must contribute their
dew and sunshine to it. Our own is growing
slowly but surely, striking its roots downward,
and its branches upward, as is natural ; and I do
not wish, for the sake of what some people call
originality, to invert it, and try to make it grow
with its roots in the air. And as for having it so
savage and wild as you want it, I have only to
say, that all literature, as well as all art, is the
result of culture and intellectual refinement."
u Ah ! we do not want art and refinement ; we
want genius, untutored, wild, original, free."
" But, if this genius is to find any expression,
it must employ art ; for art is the external ex-
pression of our thoughts. Many have genius, but,
wanting art, are for ever dumb. The two must
go together to form the great poet, painter, or
4t In that sense, very well."
" I was about to say also that I thought our
literature would finally not be wanting in a kind
u As the blood of all nations is mingling with
our own, so will their thoughts and feelings
finally mingle in our literature. We shall draw
from the Germans tenderness ; from the Span-
iards, passion ; from the French, vivacity, to
mingle more and more with our English solid
sense. And this will give us universality, so
much to be desired."
" If that is your way of thinking," interrupted
the visitor, "you will like the work I am now
" What is it ? "
" A great national drama, the scene of which
is laid in New Mexico. It is entitled Don
Serafin, or the Marquis of the Seven Churches.
The principal characters are Don Serafin, an
old Spanish hidalgo ; his daughter Deseada ; and
Fra Serapion, the Curate. The play opens
with Fra Serapion at breakfast ; on the table a
game-cock, tied by the leg, sharing his master's
meal. Then follows a scene at the cock-pit,
where the Marquis stakes the remnant of his
fortune his herds and hacienda on a favorite
cock, and loses."
" But what do you know about cock-fighting ? "
A TALE. 119
demanded, rather than asked, the astonished and
" I am not very well informed on that subject,
and I was going to ask you if you could not
recommend some work."
" The only work I am acquainted with," re-
plied Mr. Churchill, " is the Reverend Mr.
Pegge's Essay on Cock-fighting among the An-
cients ; and I hardly see how you could apply
that to the Mexicans."
" Why, they are a kind of ancients, you
know. I certainly will hunt up the essay you
mention, and see what I can do with it."
" And all I know about the matter itself,"
continued Mr. Churchill, " is, that Mark An-
tony was a patron of the pit, and that his cocks
were always beaten by Caesar's ; and that, when
Themistocles the Athenian general was march-
ing against the Persians, he halted his army to
see a cock-fight, and made a speech to his sol-
diery, to the effect, that those animals fought not
for the gods of their country, nor for the mon-
uments of their ancestors, nor for glory, nor for
freedom, nor for their children, but only for
the sake of victory. On his return to Athens,
he established cock-fights in that capital. But
how this is to help you in Mexico I do not
see, unless you introduce Santa Anna, and
compare him to Caesar and Themistocles."
u That is it ; I will do so. It will give
historic interest to the play. I thank you for
" The subject is certainly very original ; but
it does not strike me as particularly national."
" Prospective, you see ! " said Mr. Hatha-
way, with a penetrating look.
u Ah, yes ; I perceive you fish with a heavy
sinker, down, far down in the future, among
posterity, as it were."
" You have seized the idea. Besides, I obvi-
ate your objection, by introducing an American
circus company from the United States, which
enables me to bring horses on the stage and
produce great scenic effect."
" That is a bold design. The critics will
be out upon you without fail."
" Never fear that. I know the critics root
and branch, out and out, have summered
them and wintered them, in fact, am one of
them myself. Very good fellows are the critics ;
are they not ? "
" O, yes ; only they have suclT
way of talking down upon authors."
" If they did not talk down upon them, they
would show no superiority ; and, of course, that
would never do."
" Nor is it to be wondered at, that authors
are sometimes a little irritable. I often recall
the poet in the Spanish fable, whose manu-
scripts were devoured by mice, till at length
he put some corrosive sublimate into his ink,
and was never troubled again."
" Why don't you try it yourself?" said Mr.
Hathaway, rather sharply.
u O," answered Mr. Churchill, with a smile
of humility, u I and my writings are too in-
significant. They may gnaw and welcome. I
do not like to have poison about, even for such
" By the way, Mr. Churchill," said the visitor,
adroitly changing the subject, " do you know
Honeywell ? "
"No, I do not. Who is he?"
" Honeywell the poet, I mean."
" No, I never even heard of him. There
are so many poets now-a-days ! "
" That is very strange indeed ! Why, I con-
sider Honeywell one of the finest writers in
the country, quite in the front rank of Ameri-
can authors. He is a real poet, and no mistake.
Nature made him with her shirt-sleeves rolled
" What has he published ? "
u He has not published any thing yet, except
in the newspapers. But, this Autumn, he is
going to bring out a volume of poems. I could
not help having my joke with him about it. T
told him he had better print it on cartridge-
" Why so ? "
u Why, to make it go off better; don't you
" O, yes ; now that you explain it. Very
" Honeywell is going to write for the Maga-
zine ; he is to furnish a poem for every number ;
and as he succeeds equally well in the plaintive
and didactic style of Wordsworth, and the more
vehement and impassioned style of Byron, I
think we shall do very well."
" And what do you mean to call the new
Magazine ? " inquired Mr. Churchill.
" We think of calling it The Niagara."
A TALE. 123
" Why, that is the name of our fire-engine !
Why not call it The Extinguisher?"
" That is also a good name ; but I prefer
The Niagara, as more national. And I hope,
Mr. Churchill, you will let us count upon you.
We should like to have an article from your
pen for every number."
u Do you mean to pay your contributors ? "
" Not the first year, I am sorry to say. But
after that, if the work succeeds, we shall pay
handsomely. And, of course, it will succeed,
for we mean it shall ; and we never say fail.
There is no such word in our dictionary. Be-
fore the year is out, we mean to print fifty
thousand copies ; and fifty thousand copies will
give us, at least, one hundred and fifty thousand
readers ; and, with such an audience, any author
might be satisfied."
He had touched at length the right strings in
Mr. ChurchilPs bosom ; and they vibrated to
the touch with pleasant harmonies. Literary
vanity ! literary ambition ! The editor per-
ceived it ; and so cunningly did he play upon
these chords, that, before he departed, Mr.
Churchill had promised to write for him a series
of papers on Obscure Martyrs, a kind of
tragic history of the unrecorded and life-long
sufferings of women, which hitherto had found
no historian, save now and then a novelist.
Notwithstanding the certainty of success,
notwithstanding the fifty thousand subscribers and
the one hundred and fifty thousand readers,
the Magazine never went into operation. Still
the dream was enough to occupy Mr. Churchill's
thoughts, and to withdraw them entirely from his
Romance for many weeks together.
A TALE. 125
EVERY state, and almost every county, of
New England, has its Roaring Brook, a moun-
tain streamlet, overhung by woods, impeded by
a mill, encumbered by fallen trees, but ever
racing, rushing, roaring dow r n through gurgling
gullies, and filling the forest with its delicious
sound and freshness ; the drinking-place of home-
returning herds ; the mysterious haunt of squir-
rels and blue-jays ; the sylvan retreat of school-
girls, who frequent it on Summer holidays, and
mingle their restless thoughts, their overflowing
fancies, their fair imaginings, with its restless,
exuberant, and rejoicing stream.
Fairmeadow had no Roaring Brook. As its
name indicates, it was too level a land for that.
But the neighbouring town of Westwood, lying
more inland, and among the hills, had one of the
fairest and fullest of all the brooks that roar.
It was the boast of the neighbourhood. Not
to have seen it, was to have seen no brook,
no waterfall, no mountain ravine. And, conse-
quently, to behold it and admire, was Kavanagh
taken by Mr. Churchill as soon as the Summer
vacation gave leisure and opportunity. The
party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, and
Alfred, in a one-horse chaise ; and Cecilia,
Alice, and Kavanagh, in a carryall, the fourth
seat in which was occupied by a large basket,
containing what the Squire of the Grove, in Don
Quixote, called his "fiambreras," that mag-
niloquent Castilian word for cold collation. Over
warm uplands, smelling of clover and mint ;
through cool glades, still wet with the rain of
yesterday ; along the river ; across the rattling
and tilting planks of wooden bridges ; by or-
chards ; by the gates of fields, w T ith the tall
mullen growing at the bars ; by stone walls over-
run with privet and barberries ; in sun and heat,
in shadow and coolness, forward drove the
happy party on that pleasant Summer morning.
At length they reached the Roaring Brook.
From a gorge in the mountains, through a long,
winding gallery of birch, and beech, and pine,
A TALE. 127
leaped the bright, brown waters of the jubilant
streamlet ; out of the woods, across the plain,
under the rude bridge of logs, into the woods
again, a day between two nights. With it
went a song that made the heart sing likewise ;
a song of joy, and exultation, and freedom ; a
continuous and unbroken song of life, and pleas-
ure, and perpetual youth. Like the old Ice-
landic Scald, the streamlet seemed to say,
"I am possessed of songs such as neither
the spouse of a king, nor any son of man, can
repeat : one of them is called the Helper ; it
will help thee at thy need, in sickness, grief, and
The little party left their carriages at a farm-
house by the bridge, and followed the rough road
on foot along the brook ; now close upon it,
now shut out by intervening trees. Mr. Church-
ill, bearing the basket on his arm, walked in front
with his wife and Alfred. Kavanagh came be-
hind with Cecilia and Alice. The music of the
brook silenced all conversation ; only occasional
exclamations of delight were uttered, the irre-
pressible applause of fresh and sensitive natures,
in a scene so lovely. Presently, turning off
from the road, which led directly to the mill,
and was rough with the tracks of heavy wheels,
they went down to the margin of the brook.
" How indescribably beautiful this brown water
is ! " exclaimed Kavanagh. " It is like wine, or
the nectar of the gods of Olympus ; as if the
falling Hebe had poured it from the goblet."
" More like the mead or metheglin of the
northern gods," said Mr. Churchill, " spilled
from the drinking-horns of Valhalla."
But all the ladies thought Kavanagh's compari-
son the better of the two, and in fact the best that
could be made ; and Mr. Churchill was obliged to
retract and apologize for his allusion to the celes-
tial ale-house of Odin.
Ere long they were forced to cross the brook,
stepping from stone to stone, over the little rapids
and cascades. All crossed lightly, easily, safely ;
even " the sumpter mule," as Mr. Churchill
called himself, on account of the pannier. Only
Cecilia lingered behind, as if afraid to cross.
Cecilia, who had crossed at that same place a
hundred times before, Cecilia, who had the
surest foot, and the firmest nerves, of all the vil-
lage maidens, she now stood irresolute, seized
with a sudden tremor ; blushing, and laughing at
her own timidity, and yet unable to advance.
A TALE. 129
Kavanagh saw her embarrassment, and hastened
back to help her. Her hand trembled in his ;
she thanked him with a gentle look and word.
His whole soul was softened within him. His
attitude, his countenance, his voice, were alike
submissive and subdued. He was as one pene-
trated with tenderest emotions.
It is difficult to know at what moment love
begins ; it is less difficult to know that it has
begun. A thousand heralds proclaim it to the
listening air ; a thousand ministers and messen-
gers betray it to the eye. Tone, act, attitude
and look, the signals upon the countenance,
the electric telegraph of touch ; all these betray
the yielding citadel before the word itself is
uttered, which, like the key surrendered, opens
every avenue and gate of entrance, and makes
retreat impossible !
The day passed delightfully with all. They
sat upon the stones and the roots of trees. Ce-
cilia read, from a volume she had brought with
her, poems that rhymed with the running water.
The others listened and commented. Little
Alfred waded in the stream, with his bare white
feet, and launched boats over the falls. Noon
had been fixed upon for dining ; but they antici-
pated it by at least an hour. The great basket
was opened ; endless sandwiches were drawn
forth, and a cold pastry, as large as that of the
Squire of the Grove. During the repast, Mr.
Churchill slipped into the brook, while in the act
of handing a sandwich to his wife, which caused
unbounded mirth ; and Kavanagh sat down on a
mossy trunk, that gave way beneath him, and
crumbled into powder. This, also, was received
with great merriment.
After dinner, they ascended the brook still
farther, indeed, quite to the mill, which was not
going. It had been stopped in the midst of its
work. The saw still held its hungry teeth fixed
in the heart of a pine. Mr. Churchill took occa-
sion to make known to the company his long
cherished purpose of writing a poem called u The
Song of the Saw-Mill," and enlarged on the
beautiful associations of flood and forest connect-
ed with the theme. He delighted himself and
his audience with the fine fancies he meant to
weave into his poem, and wondered nobody had
thought of the subject before. Kavanagh said it
had been thought of before ; and cited Kerner's
little poem, so charmingly translated by Bryant.
Mr. Churchill had not seen it. Kavanagh looked
A TALE. 131
into his pocket-book for it, but it was not to be
found ; still he was sure that there was such
a poem. Mr. Churchill abandoned his design.
He had spoken, and the treasure, just as he
touched it with his hand, was gone forever.
The party returned home as it came, all tired
and happy, excepting little Alfred, who was
tired and cross, and sat sleepy and sagging on his
father's knee, with his hat cocked rather fiercely
over his eyes.
THE brown Autumn came. Out of doors, it
brought to the fields the prodigality of the yellow
harvest, to the forest, revelations of light,
and to the sky, the sharp air, the morning mist,
the red clouds at evening. Within doors, the
sense of seclusion, the stillness of closed and
curtained windows, musings by the fireside, books,
friends, conversation, and the long, meditative
evenings. To the farmer, it brought surcease of
toil, to the scholar, that sweet delirium of the
brain which changes toil to pleasure. It brought
the wild duck back to the reedy marshes of the
south ; it brought the wild song back to the
fervid brain of the poet. Without, the village
street was paved with gold ; the river ran red
with the reflection of the leaves. Within, the
faces of friends brightened the gloomy walls ; the
A TALE. 133
returning footsteps of the long-absent gladdened
the threshold ; and all the sweet amenities of
social life again resumed their interrupted reign.
Kavanagh preached a sermon on the coming
of Autumn. He chose his text from Isaiah,
"Who is this that cometh from Edom, with
dyed garments from Bozrah ? this that is glori-
ous in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of
his strength ? Wherefore art thou red in thine
apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth
in the wine-vat ? "
To Mr. Churchill, this beloved season this
Joseph with his coat of many colors, as he was
fond of calling it brought an unexpected guest,
the forlorn, forsaken Lucy. The surmises of the
family were too true. She had wandered away
with the Briareus of boots. She returned alone,
in destitution and despair ; and often, in the grief
of a broken heart and a bewildered brain, was
heard to say,
" O, how I wish I were a Christian ! If I
were only a Christian, I would not live any
longer ; I would kill myself ! I am too wretch-
A few days afterwards, a gloomy -looking man
rode through the town on horseback, stopping at
every corner, and crying into every street, with a
loud and solemn voice,
" Prepare ! prepare ! prepare to meet the
living God ! "
It was one of that fanatical sect, who believed
the end of the world was imminent, and had pre-
pared their ascension robes to be lifted up in
clouds of glory, while the worn-out, weary world
was to burn with fire beneath them, and a new
and fairer earth to be prepared for their inherit-
ance. The appearance of this forerunner of the
end of the world was followed by numerous
camp-meetings, held in the woods near the vil-
lage, to whose white tents and leafy chapels many
went for consolation and found despair.
A TALE. 135
AGAIN the two crumbly old women sat and
talked together in the little parlour of the gloomy
house under the poplars, and the two girls sat
above, holding each other by the hand, thoughtful,
and speaking only at intervals.
Alice was unusually sad and silent. The
mists were already gathering over her vision,
those mists that were to deepen and darken as the
season advanced, until the external world should
be shrouded and finally shut from her view. Al-
ready the landscape began to wear a pale and
sickly hue, as if the sun were withdrawing
farther and farther, and were soon wholly to
disappear, as in a northern winter. But to
brighten this northern winter there now arose
within her a soft, auroral light. Yes, the auroral
light of love, blushing through the whole heaven
of her thoughts. She had not breathed that
word to herself, nor did she recognize any thrill
of passion in the new emotion she experienced.
But love it was ; and it lifted her soul into a
region, which she at once felt was native to it,
into a subtler ether, which seemed its natural
This feeling, however, was not all exhilaration.
It brought with it its own peculiar languor and
sadness, its fluctuations and swift vicissitudes of
excitement and depression. To this the trivial
circumstances of life contributed. Kavanagh had
met her in the street, and had passed her with-
out recognition ; and, in the bitterness of the
moment, she forgot that she wore a thick veil,
which entirely concealed her face. At an eve-
ning party at Mr. Churchill's, by a kind of fatality,
Kavanagh had stood very near her for a long
time, but with his back turned, conversing with
Miss Hawkins, from whose toils he was, in fact,
though vainly, struggling to extricate himself;
and, in the irritation of supposed neglect, Alice
had said to herself,
" This is the kind of woman which most
fascinates men ! "
But these cruel moments of pain were few
A TALE. 137
and short, while those of delight were many and
lasting. In a life so lonely, and with so little
to enliven and embellish it as hers, the guest in
disguise was welcomed with ardor, and enter-
tained without fear or suspicion. Had he been
feared or suspected, he would have been no
longer dangerous. He came as friendship, wiiere
friendship was most needed ; he came as de-
votion, where her holy ministrations were always
Somewhat differently had the same passion
come to the heart of Cecilia ; for as the heart is,
so is love to the heart. It partakes of its strength
or weakness, its health or disease. In Cecilia,
it but heightened the keen sensation of life.
To all eyes, she became more beautiful, more
radiant, more lovely, though they knew not why.
When she and Kavanagh first met, it was hardly
as strangers meet, but rather as friends long
separated. When they first spoke to each other,
it seemed but as the renewal of some previous
interrupted conversation. Their souls flowed
together at once, without turbulence or agitation,
like waters on the same level. As they found
each other without seeking, so their intercourse
was without affectation and without embarrass-
Thus, while Alice, unconsciously to herself,
desired the love of Kavanagh, Cecilia, as un-
consciously, assumed it as already her own.
Alice keenly felt her own unworthiness ; Cecilia
made no comparison of merit. When Kava-
nagh was present, Alice was happy, but em-
barrassed ; Cecilia, joyous and natural. The
former feared she might displease ; the latter
divined from the first that she already pleased.
In both, this was the intuition of the heart.
So sat the friends together, as they had done
so many times before. But now, for the first
time, each cherished a secret, which she did not
confide to the other. Daily, for many weeks, the
feathered courier had come and gone from win-
dow to window, but this secret had never been
intrusted to his keeping. Almost daily the
friends had met and talked together, but this
secret had not been told. That could not be
confided to another, which had not been confided
to themselves ; that could not be fashioned into
words, which was not yet fashioned into thoughts,
but was still floating, vague and formless, through
the mind. Nay, had it been stated in words,
each, perhaps, would have denied it. The
distinct apparition of this fair spirit, in a visible
A TALE. 139
form, would have startled them ; though, while
it haunted all the chambers of their souls as an
invisible presence, it gave them only solace and
tc How very feverish your hand is, dearest ! "
said Cecilia. " What is the matter ? Are you
unwell ? "
u Those are the very words my mother said
to me this morning," replied Alice. u I feel
rather languid and tired, that is all. I could not
sleep last night ; I never can, when it rains."
" Did it rain last night ? I did not hear it."
u Yes ; about midnight, quite hard. I listened
to it for hours. I love to lie awake, and hear the
drops fall on the roof, and on the leaves. It
throws me into a delicious, dreamy state, which
I like much better than sleep."
Cecilia looked tenderly at her pale face. Her
eyes were very bright, and on each cheek was
a crimson signal, the sight of which would have
given her mother so much anguish, that, perhaps,
it was better for her to be blind than to see.
" When you enter the land of dreams, Alice,
you come into my peculiar realm. I am the
queen of that country, you know. But, of late,
I have thought of resigning my throne. These
endless reveries are really a great waste of time
" Do you think so ? "
u Yes; and Mr. Kavanagh thinks so, too.
We talked about it the other evening ; and after-
wards, upon reflection, I thought he was right."
And the friends resolved, half in jest and half
in earnest, that, from that day forth, the gate of
their day-dreams should be closed. And closed
it was, ere long ; for one, by the Angel of
Life ; for the other, by the Angel of Death !
A TALE. 141
THE project of the new Magazine being
heard of no more, and Mr. Churchill being
consequently deprived of his one hundred and
fifty thousand readers, he laid aside the few notes
he had made for his papers on the Obscure
Martyrs, and turned his thoughts again to the
great Romance. A whole leisure Saturday
afternoon was before him, pure gold, with-
out alloy. Ere beginning his task, he stepped
forth into his garden to inhale the sunny air,
and let his thoughts recede a little, in order
to leap farther. When he returned, glowing
and radiant with poetic fancies, he found, to his
unspeakable dismay, an unknown damsel sitting
in his arm-chair. She was rather gayly yet
elegantly dressed, and wore a veil, which she
raised as Mr. Churchill entered, fixing upon
him the full, liquid orbs of her large eyes.
u Mr. Churchill, I suppose ? " said she, rising,
and stepping forward.
" The same," replied the school-master, with
" And will you permit me," she continued,
not without a certain serene self-possession, " to
introduce myself, for want of a better person to
do it for me ? My name is Cartwright,
This announcement did not produce that pow-
erful and instantaneous effect on Mr. Churchill
which the speaker seemed to anticipate, or at
least to hope. His eye did not brighten with
any quick recognition, nor did he suddenly
"What! Are you Miss Cartwright, the
poetess, whose delightful effusions I have seen
in all the magazines ? "
On the contrary, he looked rather blank and
expectant, and only said,
" I am very glad to see you ; pray sit down."
So that the young lady herself was obliged
to communicate the literary intelligence above
alluded to, which she did very gracefully, and
" I have come to ask a great favor of you,
A TALE. 143
Mr. Churchill, which I hope you will not deny
me. By the advice of some friends, I have col-
lected my poems together," and here she
drew forth from a paper a large, thin manuscript,
bound in crimson velvet, " and think of pub-
lishing them in a volume. Now, would you not
do me the favor to look them over, and give
me your candid opinion, whether they are
worth publishing ? I should value your advice
so highly ! "
This simultaneous appeal to his vanity and
his gallantry from a fair young girl, standing on
the verge of that broad, dangerous ocean, in
which so many have perished, and looking wist-
fully over its flashing waters to the shores of
the green Isle of % Palms, such an appeal, from
such a person, it was impossible for Mr. Church-
ill to resist. He made, however, a faint show
of resistance, a feeble grasping after some
excuse for refusal, and then yielded. He
received from Clarissa's delicate, trembling hand
the precious volume, and from her eyes a still
more precious look of thanks, and then said,
u What name do you propose to give the
volume ? "
" Symphonies of the Soul, and other Poems,"
said the young lady ; "and, if you like them,
and it would not be asking too much, I should
be delighted to have you write a Preface, to in-
troduce the work to the public. The publisher
says it would increase the sale very consid-
" Ah, the publisher ! yes, but that is not very
complimentary to yourself," suggested Mr.
Churchill. U I can already see your Poems
rebelling against the intrusion of my Preface,
and rising like so many nuns in a convent to
expel the audacious foot that has dared to invade
their sacred precincts."
But it was all in vain, this pale effort at
pleasantry. Objection was useless ; and the
soft-hearted school-master a second time yielded
gracefully to his fate, and promised the Preface.
The young lady took her leave with a profusion
of thanks and blushes ; and the dainty manu-
script, with its delicate chirography and crimson
cover, remained in the hands of Mr. Churchill,
who gazed at it less as a Paradise of Dainty
Devices than as a deed or mortgage of so
many precious hours of his own scanty inherit-
ance of time.
Afterwards, when he complained a little of
A TALE. 145
this to his wife, who, during the interview, had
peeped in at the door, and, seeing how he was
occupied, had immediately withdrawn, she said
that nobody was to blame but himself; that he
should learn to say " No ! " and not do just as
every romantic little girl from the Academy
wanted him to do ; adding, as a final aggravation
and climax of reproof, that she really believed
he never would, and never meant to, begin his
NOT long afterwards, Kavanagh and Mr.
Churchill took a stroll together across the fields,
and down green lanes, walking all the bright,
brief afternoon. From the summit of the hill,
beside the old windmill, they saw the sun set ;
and, opposite, the full moon rise, dewy, large,
and red. As they descended, they felt the
heavy dampness of the air, like water, rising to
meet them, bathing with coolness first their
feet, then their hands, then their faces, till they
were submerged in that sea of dew. As they
skirted the woodland on their homeward way,
trampling the golden leaves under foot, they
heard voices at a distance, singing ; and then
saw the lights of the camp-meeting gleaming
through the trees, and, drawing nearer, dis-
tinguished a portion of the hymn :
A TALE. 147
"Don't you hear the Lord a-coming
To the old church-yards,
With a band of music,
With a band of music,
With a band of music,
Sounding through the air ? "
These words, at once awful and ludicrous,
rose on the still twilight air from a hundred
voices, thrilling with emotion, and from as many
beating, fluttering, struggling hearts. High above
them all was heard one voice, clear and musical
as a clarion.
" I know that voice," said Mr. Churchill ; " it
is Elder Evans's."
"Ah!" exclaimed Kavanagh, for only the
impression of awe was upon him, "he never
acted in a deeper tragedy than this ! How
terrible it is ! Let us pass on."
They hurried away, Kavanagh trembling in
every fibre. Silently they walked, the music
fading into softest vibrations behind them.
" How strange is this fanaticism ! " at length
said Mr. Churchill, rather as a relief to his
own thoughts, than for the purpose of reviving
the conversation. " These people really be-
lieve that the end of the world is close at hand."
" And to thousands," answered Kavanagh,
u this is no fiction, no illusion of an over-
heated imagination. To-day, to-morrow, every
day, to thousands, the end of the world is close
at hand. And why should we fear it ? We
walk here as it were in the crypts of life ; at
times, from the great cathedral above us, we
can hear the organ and the chanting of the choir ;
we see the light stream through the open door,
when some friend goes up before us ; and shall
we fear to mount the narrow staircase of the
grave, that leads us out of this uncertain twilight
into the serene mansions of the life eternal ? "
They reached the wooden bridge over the
river, which the moonlight converted into a river
of light. Their footsteps sounded on the planks ;
they passed without perceiving a female figure
that stood in the shadow below on the brink of
the stream, watching wistfully the steady flow
of the current. It was Lucy ! Her bonnet
and shawl were lying at her feet ; and when they
had passed, she waded far out into the shallow
stream, laid herself gently down in its deeper
waves, and floated slowly away into the moon-
light, among the golden leaves that were faded
and fallen like herself, among the water-lilies,
A TALE. 149
whose fragrant white blossoms had been broken
off and polluted long ago. Without a struggle,
without a sigh, without a sound, she floated down-
ward, downward, and silently sank into the silent
river. Far off, faint, and indistinct, was heard
the startling hymn, with its wild and peculiar
" O, there will be mourning, mourning, mourning, mourn-
0, there will be mourning, at the judgment-seat of
Kavanagh's heart was full of sadness. He left
Mr. Churchill at his door, and proceeded home-
ward. On passing his church, he could not
resist the temptation to go in. He climbed
to his chamber in the tower, lighted by the
moon. He sat for a long time gazing from
the window, and watching a distant and feeble
candle, whose rays scarcely reached him across
the brilliant moon-lighted air. Gentler thoughts
stole over him ; an invisible presence soothed
him ; an invisible hand was laid upon his head,
and the trouble and unrest of his spirit were
changed to peace.
" Answer me, thou mysterious future ! " ex-
claimed he; " tell me, shall these things be
according to my desires ? "
And the mysterious future, interpreted by those
" Soon thou shalt know all. It shall be well
with thee ! "
A TALE. 151
ON the following morning, Kavanagh sat as
usual in his study in the tower. No traces were
left of the heaviness and sadness of the preceding
night. It was a bright, warm morning ; and the
window, open towards the south, let in the genial
sunshine. The odor of decaying leaves scented
the air ; far off flashed the hazy river.
Kavanagh's heart, however, was not at rest.
At times he rose from his books, and paced up
and down his little study ; then took up his hat
as if to go out ; then laid it down again, and
again resumed his books. At length he arose,
and, leaning on the window-sill, gazed for a long
time on the scene before him. Some thought
was laboring in his bosom, some doubt or fear,
which alternated with hope, but thwarted any
Ah, how pleasantly that fair autumnal land-
scape smiled upon him ! The great golden elms
that marked the line of the village street, and
under whose shadows no beggars sat ; the air
of comfort and plenty, of neatness, thrift, and
equality, visible everywhere ; and from far-off
farms the sound of flails, beating the triumphal
k march of Ceres through the land ; these were
the sights and sounds that greeted him as he
looked. Silently the yellow leaves fell upon the
graves in the church-yard ; and the dew glistened
in the grass, which was still long and green.
Presently his attention was arrested by a dove,
pursued by a little kingfisher, who constantly
endeavoured to soar above it, in order to attack
it at greater advantage. The flight of the birds,
thus shooting through the air at arrowy speed,
was beautiful. When they were opposite the
tower, the dove suddenly wheeled, and darted
in at the open window, while the pursuer held
on his way with a long sweep, and was out of
sight in a moment.
At the first glance, Kavanagh recognized the
dove, which lay panting on the floor. It was
the same he had seen Cecilia buy of the little
man in gray. He took it in his hands. Its heart
A TALE. 153
was beating violently. About its neck was a
silken band ; beneath its wing, a billet, upon
which was a single word, u Cecilia." The bird,
then, was on its way to Cecilia Vaughan. He
hailed the omen as auspicious, and, immediately
closing the window, seated himself at his table,
and wrote a few hurried words, which, being
carefully folded and sealed, he fastened to the
band, and then hastily, as if afraid his purpose
might be changed by delay, opened the window
and set the bird at liberty. It sailed once or
twice round the tower, apparently uncertain and
bewildered, or still in fear of its pursuer. Then,
instead of holding its way over the fields to
Cecilia Vaughan, it darted over the roofs of the
village, and alighted at the window of Alice
Having written that morning to Cecilia some-
thing urgent and confidential, she was already
waiting the answer ; and, not doubting that the
bird had brought it, she hastily untied the silken
band, and, without looking at the superscription,
opened the first note that fell on the table. It
was very brief; only a few lines, and not a name
mentioned in it ; an impulse, an ejaculation of
love ; every line quivering with electric fire,
every word a pulsation of the writer's heart.
It was signed " Arthur Kavanagh."
Overwhelmed by the suddenness and violence
of her emotions, Alice sat for a long time motion-
less, holding the open letter in her hand. Then
she read it again, and then relapsed into her
dream of joy and wonder. It would be difficult
to say which of the two emotions was the greater,
her joy that her prayer for love should be
answered, and so answered, her wonder that
Kavanagh should have selected her ! In the
tumult of her sensations, and hardly conscious
of what she was doing, she folded the note and
replaced it in its envelope. Then, for the first
time, her eye fell on the superscription. It was
" Cecilia Vaughan." Alice fainted.
On recovering her senses, her first act was one
of heroism. She sealed the note, attached it
to the neck of the pigeon, and sent the messen-
ger rejoicing on his journey. Then her feel-
ings had way, and she wept long and bitterly.
Then, with a desperate calmness, she reproved
her own weakness and selfishness, and felt that
she ought to rejoice in the happiness of her
friend, and sacrifice her affection, even her life,
to her. Her heart exculpated Kavanagh from
A TALE. 155
all blame. He had not deluded her ; she had
deluded herself. She alone was in fault ; and
in deep humiliation, with wounded pride and
wounded love, and utter self-abasement, she
bowed her head and prayed for consolation and
One consolation she already had. The secret
was her own. She had not revealed it even to
Cecilia. Kavanagh did not suspect it. Public
curiosity, public pity, she would not have to
She was resigned. She made the heroic
sacrifice of self, leaving her sorrow to the great
physician, Time, the nurse of care, the healer
of all smarts, the soother and consoler of all
sorrows. And, thenceforward, she became unto
Kavanagh what the moon is to the sun, for ever
following, for ever separated, for ever sad !
As a traveller, about to start upon his journey,
resolved and yet irresolute, watches the clouds,
and notes the struggle between the sunshine and
the showers, and says, " It will be fair ; I will
go," and again says, u Ah, no, not yet ; the
rain is not yet over," so at this same hour sat
Cecilia Vaughan, resolved and yet irresolute,
longing to depart upon the fair journey before
her, and yet lingering on the paternal threshold,
as if she wished both to stay and to go, seeing
the sky was not without its clouds, nor the road
without its dangers.
It was a beautiful picture, as she sat there
with sweet perplexity in her face, and above it
an immortal radiance streaming from her brow.
She was like Guercino's Sibyl, with the scroll
of fate and the uplifted pen ; and the scroll she
held contained but three words, three words
that controlled the destiny of a man, and, by
their soft impulsion, directed for evermore the
current of his thoughts. They were,
" Come to me ! "
The magic syllables brought Kavanagh to her
side. The full soul is silent. Only the rising
and falling tides rush murmuring through their
channels. So sat the lovers, hand in hand ; but
for a long time neither spake, neither had need
of speech !
A TALE. 157
IN the afternoon, Cecilia went to communicate
the news to Alice with her own lips, thinking it
too important to be intrusted to the wings of the
carrier-pigeon. As she entered the door, the
cheerful doctor was coming out ; but this was no
unusual apparition, and excited no alarm. Mrs.
Archer, too, according to custom, was sitting in
the little parlour with her decrepit old neighbour,
who seemed almost to have taken up her abode
under that roof, so many hours of every day did
she pass there.
With a light, elastic step, Cecilia bounded up
to Alice's room. She found her reclining in her
large chair, flushed and excited. Sitting down
by her side, and taking both her hands, she said,
with great emotion in the tones of her voice,
" Dearest Alice, I have brought you some
news that I am sure will make you well. For
my sake, you will be no longer ill when you hear
it. I am engaged to Mr. Kavanagh ! "
Alice feigned no surprise at this announcement.
She returned the warm pressure of Cecilia's
hand, and, looking affectionately in her face, said
" I knew it would be so. I knew that he
loved you, and that you would love him."
" How could I help it ? " said Cecilia, her
eyes beaming with dewy light ; " could any one
help loving him ? "
" No," answered Alice, throwing her arms
around Cecilia's neck, and laying her head upon
her shoulder ; " at least, no one whom he loved.
But when did this happen ? Tell me all about
it, dearest ! "
Cecilia was surprised, and perhaps a little hurt,
at the quiet, almost impassive manner in which
her friend received this great intelligence. She
had expected exclamations of wonder and delight,
and such a glow of excitement as that with
which she was sure she should have hailed the
announcement of Alice's engagement. But this
momentary annoyance was soon swept away by
the tide of her own joyous sensations, as she
A TALE. 159
proceeded to recall to the recollection of her
friend the thousand little circumstances that had
marked the progress of her love and Kavanagh's ;
things which she must have noticed, which she
could not have forgotten ; with questions inter-
spersed at intervals, such as, " Do you recollect
when ?" and "I am sure you have not forgot-
ten, have you ? " and dreamy little pauses of
silence, and intercalated sighs. She related to
her, also, the perilous adventure of the carrier-
pigeon ; how it had been pursued by the cruel
kingfisher ; how it had taken refuge in Kava-
nagh's tower, and had been the bearer of his
letter, as well as her own. When she had
finished, she felt her bosom wet with the tears
of Alice, who was suffering martyrdom on that
soft breast, so full of happiness. Tears of
bitterness, tears of blood ! And Cecilia, in
the exultant temper of her soul at the moment,
thought them tears of joy, and pressed Alice
closer to her heart, and kissed and caressed her.
" Ah, how very happy you are, Cecilia ! "
at length sighed the poor sufferer, in that slightly
querulous tone, to which Cecilia was not unac-
customed; " how very happy you are, and how
very wretched am I ! You have all the joy of
life, I all its loneliness. How little you will
think of me now ! How little you will need me !
I shall be nothing to you, you will forget me."
" Never, dearest!" exclaimed Cecilia, with
much warmth and sincerity. " I shall love you
only the more. We shall both love you. You
will now have two friends instead of one."
" Yes ; but both will not be equal to the one
I lose. No, Cecilia ; let us not make to our-
selves any illusions. I do not. You cannot now
be with me so much and so often as you have
been. Even if you were, your thoughts would
be elsewhere. Ah, I have lost my friend, when
most I needed her ! "
Cecilia protested ardently and earnestly, and
dilated with eagerness on her little plan of life, in
which their romantic friendship was to gain only
new strength and beauty from the more romantic
love. She was interrupted by a knock at the
street door ; on hearing which, she paused a
moment, and then said,
" It is Arthur. He was to call for me."
Ah, what glimpses of home, and fireside, and a
whole life of happiness for Cecilia, were revealed
by that one word of love and intimacy, "Ar-
thur " ! and for Alice, what a sentence of doom !
A TALE. 161
what sorrow without a name ! what an endless
struggle of love and friendship, of duty and in-
clination ! A little quiver of the eyelids and the
hands, a hasty motion to raise her head from
Cecilia's shoulder, these were the only out-
ward signs of emotion. But a terrible pang went
to her heart ; her blood rushed eddying to her
brain ; and when Cecilia had taken leave of her
with the triumphant look of love beaming upon her
brow, and an elevation in her whole attitude and
bearing, as if borne up by attendant angels, she
sank back into her chair, exhausted, fainting,
fearing, longing, hoping to die.
And below sat the two old women, talking of
moths, and cheap furniture, and what was the best
remedy for rheumatism ; and from the door went
forth two happy hearts, beating side by side with
the pulse of youth and hope and joy, and within
them and around them was a new heaven and a
new earth !
Only those who have lived in a small town can
really know how great an event therein is a new
engagement. From tongue to tongue passes the
swift countersign ; from eye to eye flashes the
illumination of joy, or the bale-fire of alarm ; the
streets and houses ring with it, as with the pene-
trating, all-pervading sound of the village bell ;
the whole community feels a thrill of sympathy,
and seems to congratulate itself that all the
great events are by no means confined to the
great towns. As Cecilia and Kavanagh passed
arm in arm through the village, many curious eyes
watched them from the windows, many hearts
grown cold or careless rekindled their household
fires of love from the golden altar of God, borne
through the streets by those pure and holy hands !
The intelligence of the engagement, however,
was received very differently by different persons.
Mrs. Wilmer dings wondered, for her part, why
any body wanted to get married at all. The little
taxidermist said he knew it would be so from the
very first day they had met at his aviary. Miss
Hawkins lost suddenly much of her piety and
all her patience, and laughed rather hysterically.
Mr. Hawkins said it was impossible, but went
in secret to consult a friend, an old bachelor, on
the best remedy for love ; and the old bachelor,
as one well versed in such affairs, gravely advised
him to think of the lady as a beautiful statue !
Once more the indefatigable school -girl took
up her pen, and wrote to her foreign correspond-
ent a letter that might rival the famous epistle of
A TALE. 163
Madame de Sevigne to her daughter, announcing
the engagement of Mademoiselle Montpensier.
Through the whole of the first page, she told her
to guess who the lady was ; through the whole of
the second, who the gentleman was ; the third
was devoted to what was said about it in the
village ; and on the fourth there were two post-
scripts, one at the top and the other at the bot-
tom, the first stating that they were to be married
in the Spring, and to go to Italy immediately
afterwards, and the last, that Alice Archer was
dangerously ill with a fever.
As for the Churchills, they could find no words
powerful enough to express their delight, but
gave vent to it in a banquet on Thanksgiving- day,
in which the wife had all the trouble and the
husband all the pleasure. In order that the
entertainment might be worthy of the occasion,
Mr. Churchill wrote to the city for the best
cookery-book ; and the bookseller, executing the
order in all its amplitude, sent him the Practical
Guide to the Culinary Art in all its Branches, by
Frascatelli, pupil of the celebrated Careme, and
Chief Cook to Her Majesty the Queen, a
ponderous volume, illustrated with numerous en-
gravings, and furnished with bills of fare for every
month in the year, and any number of persons.
This great work was duly studied, evening after
evening ; and Mr. Churchill confessed to his wife,
that, although at first startled by the size of the
book, he had really enjoyed it very highly, and
had been much pleased to be present in imagina-
tion at so many grand entertainments, and to sit
opposite the Queen without having to change his
dress or the general style of his conversation.
The dinner hour, as well as the dinner itself,
was duly debated. Mr. Churchill was in favor
of the usual hour of one ; but his wife thought it
should be an hour later. Whereupon he re
" King Henry the Eighth dined at ten o'clock
and supped at four. His queen's maids of honor
had a gallon of ale and a chine of beef for their
To which his wife answered,
' c I hope we shall have something a little more
refined than that."
The day on which the banquet should take
place was next discussed, and both agreed that
no day could be so appropriate as Thanksgiving-
day ; for, as Mrs. Churchill very truly remarked,
it was really a day of thanksgiving to Kavanagh.
She then said,
A TALE. 165
" How very solemnly he read the Governor's
Proclamation yesterday ! particularly the words
' God save the Commonwealth of Massachu-
setts ! ' And what a Proclamation it was !
When he spread it out on the pulpit, it looked
like a table-cloth ! "
Mr. Churchill then asked,
" What day of the week is the first of Decem-
ber ? Let me see,
' At Dover dwells George Brown, Esquire,
Good Christopher Finch and Daniel Friar ! '
" I could have told you that," said his wife,
" by a shorter process than your old rhyme.
Thanksgiving-day always comes on Thursday."
These preliminaries being duly settled, the
dinner was given.
There being only six guests, and the dinner
being modelled upon one for twenty-four persons,
Russian style in November, it was very abundant.
It began with a Colbert soup, and ended with a
Nesselrode pudding ; but as no allusion was made
in the course of the repast to the French names
of the dishes, and the mutton, and turnips, and
pancakes were all called by their English patro-
nymics, the dinner appeared less magnificent in
reality than in the bill of fare, and the guests did
not fully appreciate how superb a banquet they
were enjoying. The hilarity of the occasion
was not marred by any untoward accident ;
though once or twice Mr. Churchill was much
annoyed, and the company much amused, by
Master Alfred, who was allowed to be present
at the festivities, and audibly proclaimed what
was coming, long before it made its appearance.
When the dinner was over, several of the guests
remembered brilliant and appropriate things they
might have said, and wondered they were so
dull as not to think of them in season ; and when
they were all gone, Mr. Churchill remarked to his
wife that he had enjoyed himself very much, and
that he should like to ask his friends to just such
a dinner every week !
A TALE. 167
THE first snow came. How beautiful it was,
falling so silently, all day long, all night long, on
the mountains, on the meadows, on the roofs of
the living, on the graves of the dead ! All white
save the river, that marked its course by a
winding black line across the landscape ; and
the leafless trees, that against the leaden sky
now revealed more fully the wonderful beauty and
intricacy of their branches !
What silence, too, came with the snow, and
what seclusion ! Every sound was muffled, every
noise changed to something soft and musical.
No more trampling hoofs, no more rattling
wheels ! Only the chiming sleigh-bells, beating
as swift and merrily as the hearts of children.
All day long, all night long, the snow fell on
the village and on the church-yard ; on the happy
home of Cecilia Vaughan, on the lonely grave
of Alice Archer ! Yes ; for before the winter
came she had gone to that land where winter
never comes. Her long domestic tragedy was
ended. She was dead ; and with her had died
her secret sorrow and her secret love. Kava-
nagh never knew what wealth of affection for him
faded from the world when she departed ; Cecilia
never knew what fidelity of friendship, what
delicate regard, what gentle magnanimity, what
angelic patience had gone with her into the grave ;
Mr. Churchill never knew, that, while he was ex-
ploring the Past for records of obscure and un-
known martyrs, in his own village, near his own
door, before his own eyes, one of that silent
sisterhood had passed away into oblivion, un-
noticed and unknown.
How often, ah, how often, between the desire
of the heart and its fulfilment, lies only the brief-
est space of time and distance, and yet the desire
remains forever unfulfilled ! It is so near that we
can touch it with the hand, and yet so far away
that the eye cannot perceive it. What Mr.
Churchill most desired was before him. The
Romance he was longing to find and record had
really occurred in his neighbourhood, among his
A TALE. 169
own friends. It had been set like a picture
into the frame-work of his life, inclosed within
his own experience. But he could not see it
as an object apart from himself; and as he was
gazing at what was remote and strange and in-
distinct, the nearer incidents of aspiration, love,
and death, escaped him. They were too near to
be clothed by the imagination with the golden
vapors of romance ; for the familiar seems trivial,
and only the distant and unknown completely fill
and satisfy the mind.
The winter did not pass without its peculiar
delights and recreations. The singing of the
great wood fires ; the blowing of the wind over
the chimney-tops, as if they w r ere organ pipes ;
the splendor of the spotless snow ; the purple
wall built round the horizon at sunset ; the sea-
suggesting pines, with the moan of the billows in
their branches, on which the snows were furled
like sails ; the northern lights ; the stars of steel ;
the transcendent moonlight, and the lovely shad-
ows of the leafless trees upon the snow ; these
things did not pass unnoticed nor unremembered.
Every one of them made its record upon the
heart of Mr. Churchill.
His twilight walks, his long Saturday afternoon
rambles, had again become solitary ; for Kavanagh
was lost to him for such purposes, and his wife"
was one of those women who never walk.
Sometimes he went down to the banks of the
frozen river, and saw the farmers crossing it
with their heavy-laden sleds, and the Fairmeadow
schooner imbedded in the ice ; and thought of
Lapland sledges, and the song of Kulnasatz, and
the dismantled, ice-locked vessels of the explorers
in the Arctic Ocean. Sometimes he went to the
neighbouring lake, and saw the skaters wheeling
round their fire, and speeding away before the
wind ; and in his imagination arose images of the
Norwegian Skate-Runners, bearing the tidings of
King Charles's death from Frederickshall to
Drontheim, and of the retreating Swedish army,
frozen to death in its fireless tents among the
mountains. And then he would watch the cut-
ting of the ice with ploughs, and the horses drag-
ging the huge blocks to the store-houses, and
contrast them with the Grecian mules, bearing the
snows of Mount Parnassus to the markets of
Athens, in panniers protected from the sun by
boughs of oleander and rhododendron.
The rest of his leisure hours were employed in
any thing and every thing save in writing his
A TALE. 171
Romance. A great deal of time was daily
consumed in reading the newspapers, because it
was necessary, he said, to keep up with the
times ; and a great deal more in writing a
Lyceum Lecture, on u What Lady Macbeth
might have been, had her energies been properly
directed." He also made some little progress in
a poetical arithmetic, founded on Bhascara's, but
relinquished it, because the school committee
thought it was not practical enough, and more
than hinted that he had better adhere to the old
system. And still the vision of the great
Romance moved before his mind, august and
glorious, a beautiful mirage of the desert.
THE wedding did not take place till Spring.
And then Kavanagh and his Cecilia departed on
their journey to Italy and the East, a sacred
mission, a visit like the Apostle's to the Seven
Churches, nay, to all the Churches of Christen-
dom ; hoping by some means to sow in many
devout hearts the desire and prophecy that 'filled
his own, the union of all sects into one univers-
al Church of Christ. They intended to be absent
one year only ; they were gone three. It seemed
to their friends that they never wonld return.
But at length they came, the long absent, the
long looked for, the long desired, bearing with
them that delicious perfume of travel, that genial,
sunny atmosphere, and soft, Ausonian air, which
returning travellers always bring about them.
A TALE. 173
It was night when they reached the village,
and they could not see what changes had taken
place in it during their absence. How it had
dilated and magnified itself, how it had puffed
itself up, and bedizened itself with flaunting,
ostentatious signs, how it stood, rotund and
rubicund with brick, like a portly man, with his
back to the fire and both hands in his pockets,
warm, expansive, apoplectic, and entertaining a
very favorable opinion of himself, all this they
did not see, for the darkness ; but Kavanagh
beheld it all, and more, when he went forth on
the following morning.
How Cecilia's heart beat as they drove up the
avenue to the old house ! The piny odors in the
night air, the solitary light at her father's window,
the familiar bark of the dog Major at the sound of
the wheels, awakened feelings at once new and
old. A sweet perplexity of thought, a strange
familiarity, a no less pleasing strangeness ! The
lifting of the heavy brass latch, and the jarring of
the heavy brass knocker as the door closed, were
echoes from her childhood. Mr. Vaughan they
found, as usual, among his papers in the study ;
the same bland, white-haired man, hardly a day
older than when they left. At the sight of him,
the whole long absence in Italy became a dream,
and vanished away. Even Kavanagh was for the
moment forgotten. She was a daughter, not a
wife ; she had not been married, she had not
been in Italy !
In the morning, Kavanagh sallied forth to find
the Fairmeadow of his memory, but found it not.
The railroad had completely transformed it. The
simple village had become a very precocious
town. New shops, with new names over the
doors ; new streets, with new forms and faces in
them ; the whole town seemed to have been taken
and occupied by a besieging army of strangers.
Nothing was permanent but the work-house,
standing alone in the pasture by the river ; and,
at the end of the street, the school-house, that
other work-house, where in childhood we pick
and untwist the cordage of the brain, that, later in
life, we may not be obliged to pull to pieces the
more material cordage of old ships.
Kavanagh soon turned in despair from the main
street into a little green lane, where there were
few houses, and where the barberry still nodded
over the old stone wall ; a place he had much
loved in the olden time for its silence and seclu-
sion. He seemed to have entered his ancient
A TALE. 175
realm of dreams again, and was walking with his
hat drawn a little over his eyes. He had not
proceeded far, when he was startled by a woman's
voice, quite sharp and loud, crying from the op-
posite side of the lane. Looking up, he beheld a
small cottage, against the wall of which rested a
ladder, and on this ladder stood the wornan from
whom the voice came. Her face was nearly
concealed by a spacious gingham sun-bonnet, and
in her right hand she held extended a large brush,
with which she was painting the front of her
cottage, when interrupted by the approach of
Kavanagh, who, thinking she was calling to him,
but not understanding what she said, made haste
to cross over to her assistance. At this move-
ment her tone became louder and more peremp-
tory ; and he could now understand that her cry
was rather ,a warning than an invitation.
" Go away ! " she said, flourishing her brush.
" Go away ' What are you coming down here
for, when I am on the ladder, painting my house ?
If you don't go right about your business, I will
come down and "
"Why, Miss Manchester !" exclaimed Kava-
nagh ; " how could I know that you would be
going up the ladder just as I came down the
lane ? "
" Well, I declare ! if it is not Mr. Kava-
And she scrambled down the ladder backwards
with as much grace as the circumstances permit-
ted. She, too, like the rest of his friends in the
village, showed symptoms of growing older. The
passing years had drunk a portion of the light
from her eyes, and left their traces on her cheeks,
as birds that drink at lakes leave their foot-prints
on the margin. But the pleasant smile remained,
and reminded him of the by-gone days, when she
used to open for him the door of the gloomy
house under the poplars.
Many things had she to ask, and many to tell ;
and for full half an hour Kavanagh stood leaning
over the paling, while she remained among the
hollyhocks, as stately and red as the plants them-
selves. At parting, she gave him one of the
flowers for his wife ; and, when he was fairly out
of sight, again climbed the perilous ladder, and
resumed her fresco painting.
Through all the vicissitudes of these later years,
Sally had remained true to her principles and
resolution. At Mrs. Archer's death, which oc-
cured soon after Kavanagh's wedding, she had
retired to this little cottage, bought and paid for
A TALE. 177
by her own savings. Though often urged by
Mr. Vaughan's man, Silas, who breathed his
soul out upon the air of Summer evenings
through a keyed bugle, she resolutely refused to
marry. In vain did he send her letters written
with his own blood, going barefooted into the
brook to be bitten by leeches, and then using
his feet as inkstands : she refused again and
again. Was it that in some blue chamber,
or some little warm back parlour, of her heart,
the portrait of the inconstant dentist was still
hanging ? Alas, no ! But as to some hearts it
is given in youth to blossom with the fragrant
blooms of young desire, so others are doomed
by a mysterious destiny to be checked in Spring
by chill winds, blowing over the bleak common
of the world. So had it been with her desires
and thoughts of love. Fear now predominated
over hope ; and to die unmarried had become
to her a fatality which she dared not resist.
In the course of his long conversation with Miss
Manchester, Kavanagh learned many things about
the inhabitants of the town. Mrs. Wilmer dings
was still carrying on her labors in the u Dun-
stable and eleven-braid, open-work and colored
straws." Her husband had taken to the tavern,
and often came home very late, " with a brick
in his hat," as Sally expressed it. Their son
and heir was far away in the Pacific, on board
a whale-ship. Miss Amelia Hawkins remained
unmarried, though possessing a talent for matri-
mony which amounted almost to genius. Her
brother, the poet, was no more. Finding it im-
possible to follow the old bachelor's advice, and
look upon Miss Vaughan as a beautiful statue,
he made one or two attempts, but in vain, to
throw himself away on unworthy objects, and
then died. At this event, two elderly maidens
went into mourning simultaneously, each thinking
herself engaged to him ; and suddenly went out
of it again, mutually indignant with each other,
and mortified with themselves. The little taxi-
dermist was still hopping about in his aviary,
looking more than ever like his gray African
parrot. Mrs. Archer's house was uninhabited.
A TALE. 179
KAVANAGH continued his walk in the direction
of Mr. Churchill's residence. This, at least,
was unchanged, quite unchanged. The same
white front ; the same brass knocker ; the same
old wooden gate, with its chain and ball ; the same
damask roses under the windows ; the same sun-
shine without and within. The outer door and
study door were both open, as usual in the warm
weather ; and at the table sat Mr. Churchill,
writing. Over each ear was a black and inky
stump of a pen, which, like the two ravens
perched on Odin's shoulders, seemed to whisper
to him all that passed in heaven and on earth.
On this occasion, their revelations were of the
earth. He was correcting school exercises.
The joyful welcome of Mr. Churchill, as
Kavanagh entered, and the cheerful sound of
their voices, soon brought Mrs. Churchill to the
study, her eyes bluer than ever, her cheeks
fairer, her form more round and full. The
children came in also, Alfred grown to boy's
estate and exalted into a jacket ; and the baby
-that was, less than two years behind him, and
catching all his falling mantles, and all his tricks
Kavanagh found Mr. Churchill precisely where
he left him. He had not advanced one step,
not one. The same dreams, the same longings,
the same aspirations, the same indecision. A
thousand things had been planned, and none com-
pleted. His imagination seemed still to exhaust
itself in running, before it tried to leap the ditch.
While he mused, the fire burned in other brains.
Other hands wrote the books he dreamed about.
He freely used his good ideas in conversation,
and in letters ; and they were straightway wrought
into the texture of other men's books, and so
lost to him for ever. His work on Obscure
Martyrs was anticipated by Mr. Hathaway, who,
catching the idea from him, wrote and published
a series of papers on Unknown Saints, before
Mr. Churchill had fairly arranged his materials.
Before he had written a chapter of his great Ro-
A TALE. 181
mance, another friend and novelist had published
one on the same subject.
Poor Mr. Churchill ! So far as fame and ex-
ternal success were concerned, his life certainly
was a failure. He was, perhaps, too deeply
freighted, too much laden by the head, to ride
the waves gracefully. Every sea broke over
him, he was half the time under water !
All his defects and mortifications he attributed
to the outward circumstances of his life, the exi-
gencies of his profession, the accidents of chance.
But, in reality, they lay much deeper than this.
They were within himself. He wanted the all-
controlling, all-subduing will. He wanted the
fixed purpose that sways and bends all circum-
stances to its uses, as the wind bends the reeds
and rushes beneath it.
In a few minutes, and in that broad style of
handling, in which nothing is distinctly defined, but
every thing clearly suggested, Kavanagh sketched
to his friends his three years' life in Italy and the
East. And then, turning to Mr. Churchill, he
" And you, my friend, what have you been
doing all this while ? You have written to me
so rarely that I have hardly kept pace with you.
But I have thought of you constantly. In all the
old cathedrals ; in all the lovely landscapes ;
among the Alps and Apennines ; in looking down
on Duomo d'Ossola ; at the Inn of Baveno ; at
Gaeta ; at Naples ; in old and mouldy Rome ;
in older Egypt ; in the Holy Land ; in all galle-
ries and churches and ruins ; in our rural retire-
ment at Fiesoli ; whenever I have seen any
thing beautiful, I have thought of you, and of
how much you would have enjoyed it ! "
Mr. Churchill sighed ; and then, as if, with a
touch as masterly, he would draw a picture that
should define nothing, but suggest every thing,
" You have no children, Kavanagh ; we have
" Ah, so many already ! " exclaimed Kava-
nagh. " A living Pentateuch ! A beautiful Pen-
tapylon, or five -gated temple of Life ! A charm-
ing number ! "
" Yes," answered Mr. Churchill ; " a beautiful
number ; Juno's own ; the wedding of the first
even and first uneven numbers ; the number
sacred to marriage, but having no reference,
direct or indirect, to the Pythagorean novitiate
of five years of silence."
A TALE. 183
cc No ; it certainly is not the vocation of chil-
dren to be silent," said Kavanagh, laughing.
" That would be out of nature ; saving always
the children of the brain, which do not often make
so much noise in the world as we desire. I hope
a still larger family of these has grown up around
you during my absence."
" Quite otherwise," answered the school-
master, sadly. " My brain has been almost bar-
ren of songs. I have only been trifling ; and I am
afraid, that, if I play any longer with Apollo, the
untoward winds will blow the discus of the god
against my forehead, and strike me dead with it,
as they did Hyacinth of old."
" And your Romance, have you been more
successful with that ? I hope it is finished, or
nearly finished ? "
" Not yet begun," said Mr. Churchill. " The
plan and characters still remain vague and indefi-
nite in my mind. I have not even found a name
" That you can determine after the book is
written," suggested Kavanagh. " You can name
it, for instance, as the old Heimskringla was
named, from the initial word of the first chapter."
" Ah ! that was very well in the olden time,
and in Iceland, when there were no quarterly
reviews. It would be called affectation now."
" I see you still stand a little in awe of opinion.
Never fear that. The strength of criticism lies
only in the weakness of the thing criticized."
" That is the truth, Kavanagh ; and I am
more afraid of deserving criticism than of receiv-
ing it. I stand in awe of my own opinion. The
secret demerits of which we alone, perhaps, are
conscious, are often more difficult to bear than
those which have been publicly censured in us,
and thus in some degree atoned for."
" I will not say," replied Kavanagh, " that
humility is the only road to excellence, but I am
sure that it is one -road."
" Yes, humility ; but not humiliation," sighed
Mr. Churchill, despondingly. u As for excel-
lence, I can only desire it, and dream of it ; I
cannot attain to it ; it lies too far from me ; I
cannot reach it. These very books about me
here, that once stimulated me to action, have
now become my accusers. They are my Eu-
menides, and drive me to despair."
" My friend," said Kavanagh, after a short
pause, during which he had taken note of Mr.
Churchill's sadness, " that is not always excel-
A TALE. 185
lent which lies far away from us. What is re-
mote and difficult of access we are apt to over-
rate ; what is really best for us lies always within
our reach, though often overlooked. To speak
frankly, I am afraid this is the case with your
Romance. You are evidently grasping at some-
thing which lies beyond the confines of your own
experience, and which, consequently, is only a
play of shadows in the realm of fancy. The
figures have no vitality ; they are only outward
sh^ws, wanting inward life. We can give to
others only what we have."
" And if we have nothing worth giving ? " in-
terrupted Mr. Churchill.
"No man is so poor as that. As well might
the mountain streamlets say they have nothing
worth giving to the sea, because they are not
rivers. Give what you have. To some one, it
may be better than you dare to think. If you
had looked nearer for the materials of your
Romance, and had set about it in earnest, it
would now have been finished."
" And burned, perhaps," interposed Mr.
Churchill; " or sunk with the books of Simon
Magus to the bottom of the Dead Sea."
" At all events, you would have had the pleas-
ure of writing it. I remember one of the old
traditions of Art, from which you may perhaps
draw a moral. When Raphael desired to paint
his Holy Family, for a long time he strove in
vain to express the idea that filled and possessed
his soul. One morning, as he walked beyond the
city gates, meditating the sacred theme, he be-
held, sitting beneath a vine at her cottage door, a
peasant woman, holding a boy in her arms, while
another leaned upon her knee, and gazed at the
approaching stranger. The painter found here, in
real life, what he had so long sought for in vain in
the realms of his imagination ; and quickly, with
his chalk pencil, he sketched, upon the head of a
wine-cask that stood near them, the lovely group,
which afterwards, when brought into full perfec-
tion, became the transcendent Madonna della
"All this is true," replied Mr. Churchill,
u but it gives me no consolation. I now despair
of writing any thing excellent. I have no time to
devote to meditation and study. My life is given
to others, and to this destiny I submit without a
murmur ; for I have the satisfaction of having
labored faithfully in my calling, and of having
perhaps trained and incited others to do what I
A TALE. 187
shall never do. Life is still precious to me for
its many uses, of which the writing of books is
but one. I do not complain, but accept this
destiny, and say, with that pleasant author,
Marcus Antoninus, c Whatever is agreeable to
thee shall be agreeable to me, O graceful Uni-
verse ! nothing shall be to me too early or too
late, which is seasonable to thee ! Whatever thy
seasons bear shall be joyful fruit to me, O
Nature ! from thee are all things ; in thee they
subsist ; to thee they return. Could one say,
Thou dearly beloved city of Cecrops ? and wilt
thou not say, Thou dearly beloved city of
God ? ' "
" Amen ! " said Kavanagh. " And, to follow
your quotation with another, c The gale that
blows from God we must endure, toiling but not
Here Mrs. Churchill, who had something of
Martha in her, as well as of Mary, and had left
the room when the conversation took a literary
turn, came back to announce that dinner was
ready, and Kavanagh, though warmly urged to
stay, took his leave, having first obtained from the
Churchills the promise of a visit to Cecilia during
" Nothing done ! nothing done ! " exclaimed
he, as he wended his way homeward, musing and
meditating. cc And shall all these lofty aspira-
tions end in nothing ? Shall the arms be thus
stretched forth to encircle the universe, and come
back empty against a bleeding, aching breast ? "
And the words of the poet came into his
mind, and he thought them worthy to be written
in letters of gold, and placed above every door in
every house, as a warning, a suggestion, an in-
" Stay, stay the present instant !
Imprint the marks of wisdom on its wings !
0, let it not elude thy grasp, but like
The good old patriarch upon record,
Hold the fleet angel fast until he bless thee ! "
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
Return to desk from which borrowed.
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below.
< J a